The Weekend

May. 2nd, 2014 11:33 am
ceebeegee: (Default)
So the concert actually went quite well. N**** came over Friday night and we drilled the living hell out of her shaky parts--we drilled so long I was worried I wouldn't have a voice the next day. Girl just does not read music and isn't really that musical (like she does not have the instincts of a singer. Some of this is knowledge and some you're just born with). I figured out at one point she was adding counts because she thought that the fragmented measure that accompanies a cautionary key change (when there's a new system and the key changes, the composer will add a key change at the end of the previous system to alert whoever's playing/singing that the key is about to change, like this:



She thought that was its own measure and was adding counts. Anyway so I worked her through this and DRILLED. (I found out from Donna the next day that she'd basically told Donna she could read music and work on her own which obviously was not the truth. Donna was pretty annoyed.) She sounded okay on Saturday--still a little shaky (from nerves more than anything) but she didn't blow it. I felt very good about my music even though I'd kind of risked it since I'd been unable to turn down a soccer game that morning (although I forced myself not to yell). (And oh my God! I brought some oatmeal and ate it on the train and stuff the container in my bag which of course overturned on the way to the game and vomited oatmeal ALL OVER my stuff. Nice.) But it all went well and Donna was telling me that she'd heard some nice reactions to my soli. (I will admit, I know how to nail Come Away Death and The Willow Song.)

And my aunt was in town! One of my Dad's four younger sisters, my aunt Clarissa--and she's my godmother as well. After my game I ran over to Penn Station and picked her up and we took the train up to Inwood for the performance. So she got to hear me sing! Afterward she treated me to a Broadway show and we decided to see The Bridges of Madison County. I haven't read the book or seen the movie and dozed off *several* times during the first act. So perhaps some of this escaped me but I had a hard time figuring out why she had this affair when she wasn't really unhappy in her marriage. Clarissa explained some of it to me but I think perhaps the movie would do a better job--I think movies are better for communicating intimacy. I don't know. The score was certainly gorgeous and the guy who played Kincaid was terrific (and he was the standby! I think he went up on the lyrics during his last number but he was still great). Kelli O'Hara has an absolutely lovely voice but I did think she was a little mannered portraying an Italian (the hands).

Criss also gave me some family artifacts like--this is wild--my Dad's teddy bear from CHILDHOOD. Daddy gave it to her when he went off to boarding school and asked her to keep it safe for him--she has kept it all these years and now gave it to me. It is now thoroughly battered and well-loved. I put him next to Paddington and they can be friends. She said I could either return it to Daddy or keep it--I think the latter, I'm worried he won't take it from her (my Dad and his brothers are in the middle of a huge feud with my aunts. They haven't communicated in years).

New Music

Nov. 19th, 2009 07:13 pm
ceebeegee: (Vera Ellen)
Saw Ragtime last night with Michael. This is a new scaled-down production--you might even call it stripped down. I didn't see the original production on Broadway, only the first national tour--I didn't have a problem with that set but apparently it attracted some criticism for being too much--too big, too bulky, whatever. Bearing that in mind, I think this set goes a little too far in the other direction--it looks like scaffolding up there. As a means of showing off the cast, as a structural piece that helps advance the action, I think it works--I just think it looks ugly and colorless. There's a middle ground, just add some more movable set pieces. They do this well enough in the New Rochelle WASP household, they need to do it more for the other settings as well. And have more of a car up there! Someone on ATC said it very well, "Fred Flintstone wants his car back!" The car is a symbol of Coalhouse's material success, we really should see more than an outline.

The performances are a little uneven but generally pretty good. The two strongest, IMO, are Stephanie Umoh as Sarah and Bobby Steggart as Mother's Younger Brother. The latter is incredibly intense, completely in the moment all the way through and manages somehow to be both scary and touching. He also sounds great. Stephanie Umoh doesn't always sound flawless (I think she's covering a little too much) but she does a pretty good job and she's so incredibly sweet and likeable as Sarah. I suppose you could argue that you kind of HAVE to like Sarah, she's written that way but you can't write charm, the performer has to bring that. Furthermore she's absolutely gorgeous, she looks like a radiant fawn up there.

Father and Mother were good but didn't particularly excite--I thought Mother was a slightly more interesting actor than singer. The kid playing Edgar is terrific, and I want to adopt the Little Girl. Tateh was--again, okay, but I thought he was missing something, he seemed to take himself SO SERIOUSLY, a little humor helps with that role and makes your eventual breakdown in the tenement neighborhood more impactful. Coalhouse acted the role quite well but I don't think he's supporting very well, I wasn't that thrilled with his singing.

Loved Donna Migliaccio (Washington DC actors represent! Everyone knows her down there) as Emma Goldman and am grumpy that one poster on ATC wrote her and the guy who played Booker T. Washington off as caricatures. I thought they both gave believable, fully realized performances. I also liked Harry Houdini and Henry Ford--yeah, they're not huge roles but I still liked them.

And--Evelyn. I always get cranky when I see Evelyns. I've never seen one that seemed to be anything much but a caricature. This one was waaaay too brash, grinning nonstop, with a really unattractive red wig* and just--trying too hard. Brash is not sexy. Cheap is not sexy. Subtle is sexy. Evelyn Nesbit was neither brash nor cheap--yes, she's written as a chorine milking her notoriety but you can make her more interesting and self-aware than that, you can have her winking (figuratively speaking) at the audience, especially on lines like "ruined at the age of 15!" She wrote two autobiographies for God's sake, she wasn't stupid. And frankly she was a hell of a lot more sympathetic than she's portrayed in the show--she really was a victim of her own beauty. Stanford White was nothing more than a proto-Roman Polanski, although he had a much more longstanding relationship with Evelyn and took care of her for a long time.

They also cut the second verse of "Crime of the Century"--well, they didn't exactly cut it but she mouthes the words to underscoring while Edgar or someone else gives us more exposition. O-kay, I can see the wisdom of that change, I just don't like it because I love that song!

*I'm so mortified. I've seen many pictures of Evelyn Nesbit but they're all in black and white--I had no idea she was a redhead. I've been grumbling about the fact that the original EN in 1998 was a blonde, because of all the characters whose appearance you need to get right, it's hers since that's orignally what made her famous! Anyway, she was a redhead.

Such a beautiful score. Man, do I love that score. Just to hear that live...

I sort of know Mark Aldrich, who played Willy Conklin. He's also from DC, and back in the '90s he was friends with a friend of mine, Charles. Charles and Amy (his GF) were sort of trying to set me up with Mark at one point--I think Charles and Mark were both doing A Christmas Carol at Ford's Theater (while Amy and I were doing Fiddler on the Roof at one of the dinner theaters) and we all hung out after their show one night at Sweet Georgia Brown's or one of those Southern restaurants that sprang up in DC after Clinton became President. I doubt he even remembers it :)

It strikes me as odd that Tateh is able to sell his "movie book" for a dollar--a whole dollar, really? A dollar was quite a bit of money back then, it would be at least $20 nowadays, I should think.
ceebeegee: (Vera Ellen)
Proposition:

The Lion King definitely deserved the Tony for Best Musical that year, since (IMO) it was the better-directed, tighter, more theatrically overwhelming piece of musical theater. (When the audience started applauding during the "Circle of Life" number, I knew right then which show would win. That number works beautifully, I wept when I finally saw the show.)

However, Ragtime should've won the Pulitzer, since it's a great example of American playwriting and tells its story better (better score, better book) than TLK. (I have no idea what won the Pulitzer that year, just saying I think Ragtime should've gotten that award instead of the Tony).

Thoughts?
ceebeegee: (Puck)
Saw Bye Bye Birdie last night.

W. O. W.

This *may* surpass The Civil War as the worst Broadway show I've ever seen. I came close to walking out of CW at intermission, after that dreadful, self-indulgent number "How Many Devils?" but since someone had given me the ticket, I figured I owed it to them to stay.

BBB's big main, overriding flaw is the direction--including staging, casting, and the diection of the actors. Gina Gershon, who is gorgeous and who played Sally Bowles for the Rundabout to great acclaim, is egregiously miscast as Rosie. She is really terrible--not only can't she hit the notes, she can't project at all and does this weird, swooping thing on the notes. I can't describe it but she's pretty bad. Her dancing is non-existent, but worst of all is her performance. She just doesn't get the specific style, the energy of Rosie and the show. Her actions and staging is muddled and unclear--she seems like she's apologizing. She doesn't pop.

Stamos is a little better--he at least has a nice voice--but he is just. Not. The Albert type. At all. He doesn't have that nerdy, gangly energy that Albert should, and so he's just not that interesting in the role. Again, he doesn't pop. The girl who plays Kim has a lovely voice and is very sweet, but also doesn't get the role or the show. Kim is supposed to be so wide-eyed, she's ridiculous; "How Lovely to Be a Woman" is supposed to be simultaneously hilarious and adorable, because she's singing about how she's a woman and she's 15 and she's just so darn excited about those "simply beautiful clothes!" This girl sang it as though it were a thoughtful, introspective ingenue anthem--obviously the director didn't go through which phrases to lean on slightly, to make it more comic, like "the wait was well worthwhile," "...a woman's smile" and at the same time, revel in being able to "...stay out after ten!"

But all of this pales to the travesty that was Bill Irwin's performance as Mr. MacAfee. He should not be allowed anywhere near musical theater ever again. His performance of "Kids"--a slam-dunk number, an hilarious, character-based comic number, "this crazy kids, they'll be the death of me"--was THE worst, most self-indulgent, masturbatory performance I've ever seen on Broadway. He moaned and squeaked his way through the lyrics--it literally sounded as though he were having a bowel movement, the way he moaned "Keeeeeeedsuh!" My face was right out of the movie of The Producers--I was truly embarrassed for him. Honestly at this point I never want to see him in any show again, I hated his performance that much.

On the dimly bright side--the teenagers were completely adorable. Ridiculously adorable. I don't know how they directed themselves but they were all terrific, and GOT the show, they nailed the energy. I liked the Birdie too--he's not perfectly cast (a little too young, IMO) but still very good, and sounded nice. The sets are kind of minimal but I did like them, especially the MacAfee's living room--I really want that couch and those pillows! Music direction is only a'ight, I wanted to hear the kids more. Choreography is almost non-existent until "Lot of Living" when it finally picks up (the Shriner's Ballet and another dance number of Rosie's are cut).

Edited to add:



As I said, the teenagers are the best, second-best, and third-best thing about the show. They all give terrific performances. Just look at those adorable faces!
ceebeegee: (golden hearts)
I actually didn't remember the Tonys were on until I was approaching Times Square so I sat down with the crowd and watched them outside. I did miss the first several awards though and am bummed I didn't get to see my Ryan in his number. :(

* Hey, I just found out that Shrek on Best Costumes! Well, it certainly deserved it, those costumes were gorgeous, imaginative and fun. I strongly feel Christopher Sieber should've won for Featured Actor in a Musical as well--Billy Elliott is a fine show but I'm not sure it deserved ALL those awards. if You HAD to give the Featured Actor in a Musical award to BE, it should've gone to the kid, David Bologna who blew me out of the theater, he is staggeringly talented.

* Yay, Karen Olivo! I loved her speech and am thrilled that she won. Although--she played Anita, the Tony-maker. (Much like Richard Neville was Warwick the Kingmaker. A little theater/history fusion geekery there.)

* Loved the Hair number, although I would've preferred that they perform "Aquarius." It's interesting, when our cast performed for the Helen Hayes awards at the Kennedy Center back in '98, we also did "Hair" and not "Aquarius." I don't know, I just like that latter better, I think it's a cooler song with more interesting staging opportunities for an awards show, but I guess "Hair" rocks out more, and of course it constantly reminds you of the name of the show! That cast is just so awesome though--loved seeing Creel fondle Anne Hathaway (who was bouncing adorably in her seat) and Will Swenson who was playing with someone who was bald! I was rocking out in Duffy Square. Oh, and when the cast stormed the stage when they won Best Revival, that is EXACTLY what our cast did! We all just took off for the stairs--I remember clustering behind our director and at one point during his speech I was so excited I quietly yelped.

* I have to say, I kind of want to see Rock of Ages now! It looks like a ton of fun. Some terrific vocal talent, I'll say that.

* REALLY want to see God of Carnage, but I've wanted to see that for awhile.

* Hated the number from Guys and Dolls. I'd heard bad things about that revival and I must say, the naysaying was borne out by what they showed last night. "Sit Down" is NICELY'S big number--no one should be allowed to upstage him during that number. Extrenely tacky. And General Cartwright slapping herself on the ass? Are they on dope? NO ONE did that in the '30s. That is a recent gesture, maybe only about 15 years old. And if anyone, by some anachronistic twist of fate, were to be doing so, it CERTAINLY wouldn't be the uptight head of the Salvation Army. Yes, I understand that they're trying to make the point that everyone has been so turned around by the number that they've all been "converted" but they're "converted" in character. It just screamed anything for a cheap, tasteless joke. I was embarrassed for all of them.

* WHAT was the point of the Legally Blonde and Jersey Boys numbers???

* Jerry Herman. Just--awwwwww. Very sweet, classy speech.

* I didn't understand Ripley's over-the-topness, but maybe she was just excited. And I definitely applaud her sentiment.

* I literally gasped when the Billys won--such an unconventional nomination--but they should be very proud of themselves. They really are the reason that show has won so many awards--in my opinion, it's a good but not great show (I think the score is a little weak although I really like some of the songs, like that last miner number). It's the talent that distinguishes that show--those boys' talent. They're incredible.

* How hilarious was Neil Patrick Hyde's last song? Also loved his dig at SushiMan.

Disgusting

May. 15th, 2009 09:55 am
ceebeegee: (Red Heather)
On ATC, someone posted about James Barbour, asking how it was possible that he hasn't stopped working even though he "plead[ed] guilty to two counts of endangering the welfare of a child." Quick update: The guy fondled a 15-year old girl on several occasions. It's a complicated story--apparently she specifically requested to meet with him and pressed charges a few years later before the statute of limitations had run out. From his fans' reaction, you'd think she signed away her virginity to the nearest bidder. The flood of fierce, indignant posts on ATC supporting him and excoriating her--A CHILD--was absolutely nauseating. Guys, a refresher in, oh let's call it pedophilia law. When there is sexual contact between someone who's underage and someone who's much older (Barbour was at least 20 years older--ewww! Nast-ay) the minor is innocent BY DEFINITION. Because a minor doesn't have the right to say yes. A minor doesn't have the adult sensibility to agree. This is why the burden of responsibility is ALWAYS on the adult. It doesn't matter if she stripped naked and threw herself at you--YOU are responsible if you respond. Because you're the adult. She doesn't have the capacity to say yes.

So, someone asked the question above. This, I think, is a worthwhile question--frankly I've been wondering about it myself. His career doesn't seem to have suffered at all--he did the lead in Tale of Two Cities (although it could be said that was a unique form of punishment!) and a few others, and is now in 1776 at the Paper Mill. I personally would not buy a ticket to see him--I had the opportunity to see 1776 with Michael, and would've gone if I could've, but not to see him. I would certainly never buy a ticket where I thought he was the headliner. I do agree with the reasoning that a person can pay their debt to society and move on--my problem is that he and his lawyer practiced a particularly "blame the victim" style of defense, wherein she was called a gold-digger. His lawyer acted appallingly. No, I don't want to hear that he was only acting as a good defense lawyer should. There are ethical and unethical ways to defend your client. Smearing the victim is despicable. Basically I just get a very slimey feeling from the guy, I strongly disapprove of his recent actions, and I would act on those feelings.

However I concede that others might not feel the same way--they might truly believe he has served his debt to society, or that he has a right to earn a living. These are valid arguments. What bothers me are the several posts that say, in effect "how dare you even bring this up?" Don't talk about it. This entire discussion should be nullified. "Talk about a topic that's been beaten to death..." and "Why is this still being brought up???" (Well, you responded, so clearly it's still relevant.) Somebody actually posted (it's since been deleted--ha!) "STOP YOUR VENDETTA. It's despicable. STOP IT." The hell? How is an honest question a "vendetta"? How about a respectful exchange of views? How about a thoughtful counter-argument? Oh, I forgot, one of the mighty heroes has slipped, a la Mike Tyson, Kobe Bryant and Roman Polanski, so the fanboys and girls have to rise squealishly to their defense and attack the girl in question. Boys will be boys, you know--that lying bitch was just after his money.

And in keeping with the earlier posts, someone just wrote "someone on this board has an animus against this performer....I might add that in our sex-drenched culture a calculating 16-year-old is not exactly a 'child.'" Lolita lives and breathes! That manipulative temptress FORCED him to molest her, she made herself IRRESISTIBLE. How could any man be expected to act like a responsible adult when a sex-drenched 16-year-old (ENNNNH! Wrong, she was 15. Thanks for playing!) put herself in his way, with her alluring, man-weakening ways. Those crazy teenagers. It's kind of fascinating, the moral and ethical contortions on display--anything to attack that gold-digging whore, anything to absolve the 40-year-old married man of responsibility. The responsibility he accepted when he pled guilty to the laws that make this a civilized country, as opposed to, say, Saudi Arabia, where children of 8 can marry.

If I were registered on ATC, I would post that as well. And I applaud the poster who had the courage to brave the fans. Because no, it hasn't been neatly categorized and resolved and tucked away. This case was just settled a few years ago, and if someone wants to bring it up, more power to them. I just love how we're all "oooh, sex offenders are sick individuals who should have to register and wear the scarlet letter"...until it turns out to be R. Kelly. Or Kobe Bryant. Or James Barbour.
ceebeegee: (Puck)
So, the Tony noms were announced yesterday. So, SO thrilled about Shrek's 8 noms--they deserve every one. I saw the show again Sunday night, courtesy of Michael--my third time, this is the first Broadway show I've ever seen three times (and I finally got to see Leah Greenhaus in it!). Still hilarious, and I love the score. My favorite songs are "Story of My Life," "I Know It's Today," "Travel Song," "This is How a Dream Comes True," "Morning Person," "I Think I Got You Beat," "When Words Fail" and of course "Freak Flag." (I always want to start bopping around in the aisle during that song.) "I'm wood/I'm good/Get used to it!" John Tartaglia KILLS me as Pinocchio, with his gay Southern accent.

Anf the most exciting aspect of all the nominations? RYAN, my little Ryan, will be performing at the TONYS!!!!

I met Ryan backstage after the show. As I came inside the stage door, Leah Greenhaus was walking down the stairs and we chatted. I reminded her that we'd met at DeBaun about a year ago--she had that polite child actor smile, I don't think she quite remembered me but had perfect manners nonetheless! She reminds me so much of Mia at that age, so cute. I waited for Ryan for quite a lng time waiting in the wing--I saw Christopher Sieber go by and wanted to yelp "OMG, you're so hilarious!" but didn't quite dare. But he really IS awesome as Farquaad. Who knew the straight-man father on the Olsen Twins vehicle Two of a Kind would be such a success on Broadway?

I like this analysis (from ATC) about why Tony in West Side Story never seems to get a nomination:

That's because Tony is a hard-ass role to cast. )

This is so true! It's truly a thankless role. But I did like Matt Cavenaugh in it--I liked how he made it his own, both the book scenes and the phrasing (I didn't mind his back-phrasing but I do that as well). And he reads as straight up there. I think he's a *little* old for the role but *shrug.*

Nice to see that reasons to be pretty got some major noms--I hope it'll help their bottom line. And I'm guessing part of Raul's nom was for his challenge of maintaining the role against three different actors playing opposite him. I only wish they could've found a way to nominate William H. Macy just to screw it to Jeremy Piven. He got off scot-free for his unprofessional shenanigans.

I'm kind of hoping that the three Billys win. It's a weird way to nominate (these things only seem to happen in theater--Alice Ripley/Emily Skinner, the kids in the original Sound of Music all sharing a nom for Best Featured Actress (!--there were two boys in the family!), etc.). Billy is just such a difficult role, I'd really like to see them get something besides a nomination.

I'm gonna die if I can't get to see Hair soon.
ceebeegee: (CAWFEE)
Needing cawfee this morning. Exhausted from my schedule this week.

I saw Billy Elliot last night. The score is a little weak--some numbers are really bland, like the opening one (so bland I can't tell you the name or what it's really about) but I loved the final miners' song, the hymn-like number "Once We Were Kings." It's quite haunting, the way they stage it and how the number develops. I also liked the folk song the father sings at the top of the second act. I may even get this recording (not a huge fan of Elton John's scores, generally).

The kid who played Billy (David Alvarez last night) was really, really good. I find it incredible that a young kid can be that talented--he does ballet, taps, gymnastics, is a credible, touching actor, and even nails the accent. And somehow they've found three of these kids, and more including the London cast. The kid who plays Billy's friend Michael was also great--what a little scene-stealer! Absolutely infectious energy, and extremely believable in his scenes, especially his second act scene with Billy. I also loved the little ballet girls (and how sweet is it that Michael listed every one of the girls in his review! I bet they were thrilled to see their names mentioned).

Michael asked me last night what I thought about one of the staging bits, a number where Billy dances with his future self and at one point the younger Billy is hooked to a harness to fly around literally. Michael thought it was too gimmicky--I liked it but couldn't explain why, other than to say I liked the metaphor. Later I realized why--it makes me think of why I enjoy hacking on a horse--because that's the closest I can get to flying. When I'm on a horse by myself, cantering or galloping across a field, taking a fence--it feels like flying and that's why it's fun.

I also really enjoyed the very grounded, realistic backdrop (the miners' strike in Northern England in '84-'85) of Billy's story. There's an incredible number in the middle of the first act where Billy's progression as a dancer is juxtaposed with the increasingly brutal tactics the police are using to confront the striking miners. It's a dazzling number, very cleverly staged--a theatrically staged number.
ceebeegee: (Moody Scotland)
I saw Mary Stuart last night. Very interesting, although naturally I was pointing out historical errors/deviations to Michael at intermission. The main one, I guess, is the way Mary is presented, her dramatic character versus her historical character. She's very forthright, very strong and in your face and direct. But the real Mary, from all I've read, was much more...charming. Mary had an incredible ability to get people on her side, especially men--it's difficult to tell from her portraits but she was supposed to be quite beautiful and vivacious. In the movie Elizabeth, the Golden Age, Samantha Morton nails Mary--there's so much nuance and subtext in her interactions with the others, especially her jailer. She has one scene where she says to him "I pray for my cousin every day. Do you think she prays for me?" The way Morton looks at him sideways, with a very slight smile--she nailed the woman, a terrific performance. Since I love to speculate about the wider context, I wonder if that was a learned behavior or something innate. Mary grew up in the French court, with every advantage, as a favorite, and was then thrown to the wolves when she went back to Scotland as a young woman, surrounded by a lot of unruly male Scottish nobles who acted like complete thugs to her. It's easy to see how she might try to turn her disadvantage--her sex--into an advantage, by trying to charm those around her. However she WAS a Tudor by ancestry, and there was a strain of charm in many of them (from Edward IV, who was extremely personable both to men and women). Henry VIII and his younger sister Mary also had famously magnetic personalities. However this character trait skipped over Mary's Tudor grandmother, Margaret, completely--by all accounts, she did not have the gifts her younger siblings did!

At any rate, this play presents a different Mary than I've seen, and I think I can see why. It's trying to set up Mary as Elizabeth's antithesis--also strong, also a Queen, but since she's so constrained, is free to pursue one goal no matter the cost. I personally think the actual Mary is more dramatically interesting but I can see why they did it this way. The two actresses are terrific and really embrace the juicy theatricality of the script--Mary is especially riveting in her last couple of scenes. My favorite Elizabeth scene is when she gives the signed order for Mary's execution to Davison with no clear instructions on how to execute the document. The other actors are all pretty good too, although the young actor who plays Mortimer (a made up role, a fanatical Roman Catholic who's trying to free Mary) is Spitty McWetMouth. I felt bad for anyone who shared a scene with him, he really needs to swallow before he starts speaking.

VERY spare production values but there's an awesome special effect at the top of the second act that I won't spoil. Lovely though. I'm not too crazy about the design of "men in modern clothes, women in period clothes"--I think it's distracting--but it's an interesting idea.

I was talking to Michael about the Mary/Elizabeth historical dilemma, in that there IS no "right" side. Both characters really had to do what they did, and the fallout changed everything afterward. Whether or not Mary actually did plot against Elizabeth (the Babington Plot, etc.--I personally think she did), she certainly encouraged it, because deep down she felt she DID have a right to the throne (notwithstanding Henry VIII's Act of Succession which left his throne, after his son Edward, to his two daughters--both of whom he'd declared bastard. It's confusing). She had a inbred sense of herself as THE Queen, she was anointed and practically born Queen of Scotland, and was also Queen of France (for a time) by marriage, and she did not have an equal in the situation other than perhaps Elizabeth, and was therefore basically above English law. It's hard for us to see this argument, products of democracy as we are, but it wasn't just legal maneuvering, she really believed that--she believed her destiny was to reign, and if that didn't happen, then she would embrace martyrdom. And obviously Elizabeth HAD to do what she did--she had to eliminate this very real threat to her throne who refused to give up. And yet the step she was taking was HUGE--it wasn't just the loss of a life (her father had enemies executed all the time), she was killing a relative and most importantly, an anointed Queen. The construct of the Divine Right of Kings was being undermined--you could argue there's a direct line from Mary's execution, to the overthrow and execution of Charles I (Mary's grandson) some sixty years later.

Shrek

Dec. 19th, 2008 01:29 pm
ceebeegee: (Snow on the river)
Aw. DeBaun cancelled tonight's A Christmas Carol. But the snow looks beautiful!

So, Michael and I saw Shrek last night. I thought it was great! A very tight, colorful (LOVED the scenes with all the fairy tale characters in them--just dazzling), funny show. I thought especial standouts were the Donkey and Lord Faquaad--he KILLED me. (And he's hot too...) But everyone was great. My favorite numbers were "I Got You Beat," the number that the exiled fairy tale characters sang when they first arrived at the swamp, and the number about "Let Your Freak Flag Fly." "I'm wood/It's good/Get used to it!"

I was so, so thrilled to see Ryan--my Ryan, my little brother, roommate, castmate, dear friend and partner in crime for the past 18 years--up there on stage living our dream! It was unbelievable, just incredible. My Ryan, my Henry. Oh, I'm all verklempt. I screamed his name during the curtain call (we were sitting pretty close, I2 & 4 right on the aisle). Michael and I went around to the stage door where I called Ryan who texted and called me back to come in but for some reason my phone didn't ring. Annoying. Anyway he came out and greeted us--we chatted for a bit, then he said he and a couple of his castmates, and one of their husbands, would be going out to a wine bar in Hell's Kitchen. I decided to join them and Michael recused himself as a reviewer. We went to the wine bar and the husband joined us--it was Hunter Foster. I had drinks last night with Hunter Foster! God, I love New York!

The wine bar was this adorable new place on 51st St. called Xai Xai. It's beautiful, decorated in a South African theme--I loved it, so atmospheric. Ryan and I ordered a chocolate fondue dish with sparkling wine "shooters," served in the thinnest, smallest flutes I've ever seen! Naturally that wasn't enough for me so I ordered a glass of pink champagne. We kept grabbing each other's hands and squealing. I just can't believe he's on Broadway! We were joking about the first show we did together, Oklahoma! at the Lazy Susan, and how when he'd been cast, he called his mother from the payphone in the lobby and said "I, uh, won't be studying in the dorms as much this semester...you'll be able to find me at...the Lazy Susan!" It was so adorably dorky (the Susan was a dump but he didn't know that, he was still innocent!) and I love to tease him about it. His castmates were very nice--for the most part they talked among themselves but every now and then they'd turn to me and ask me something, or direct a remark to us. I can get very shy with people I don't know sometimes especially when they're, you know, BROADWAY STARS, so I appreciated their initiating conversation.

Equus

Oct. 6th, 2008 11:15 am
ceebeegee: (Riding)
I saw Equus on Friday, courtesy of Michael.

WOW. It is truly an incredible show. It took me awhile to realize just how good it was--when we left I was thinking "very well done and Daniel Radcliffe should be proud of his debut." But I couldn't stop thinking about it. Saturday I looked up clips on YouTube--I wanted to see how other productions had been staged, and how the movie looked and felt. I found out that the original production had been staged more realistically (whatever that means, since it was also in the round and the horses were also played by humans). This revival, however, is very abstract and expressionistic. The first moment of the show, the stage is bathed in dark blue light and there's a humming, keening sound. Alan Strang is in the middle of the stage as the dancers who play the horses step out of their "stalls" and don their oversized wire horse heads. The genius of this staging is that it takes you there with an immediacy that's impossible to describe--you are THERE, you "get" the boy's madness, you feel what he feels, you imagine what was going through him in the barn that night, almost like an electrical current or voices. It's absolutely brilliant direction--I'm so proud it was a female director.

The performances are generally quite strong. Daniel Radcliffe, of course, is brilliant--I can't believe he's virtually never been on stage before! His performance is just terrific--he is always in the moment, he's immersed in this character. The girl who plays Jill is pretty good too--that's not an easy role by any means, she has to try to establish a connection with a character who's incapable of it, a difficult thing to do without sacrificing your credibility. I might've directed her differently though, tried to find a little more humor in the role, a few more levels. Griffiths, who plays the psychologist, is good--I'm not sure I agree with his take on the character (I might've liked a little more theatricality--he definitely chose to underplay it) but I do think it works. I have to say though, I was most impressed by the dancers who play the horses--they are all mesmerizing. They've clearly worked hard on their roles--they really do suggest these enormous beasts who fascinate the boy, while wearing nothing more than wire horse heads and wire "hoof" platforms. I especially liked the lead horse in his scene as the Young Horseman. He was so believable as he "reined in" the horse he was riding--you could see him trying to control this massive animal. Wonderful work. (The one false note was when Alan was "riding" one of the horses and he starts to canter--a canter is a specific rhythm, a triplet--not a two-step like a trot. If he's cantering or galloping, the actor has to change the gait.)

The play is very intense during the reenactment though--I started crying and had to look away as he was blinding the horses. I couldn't take it. Animal cruelty of any kind of very, very upsetting.

I was intrigued by how similar the play Agnes of God is to Equus. Both start with the statement of a terrible, inexplicable crime committed by a young person, and the psychologist who analyzes the perpetrator addresses the audience directly at length, and also ends up questioning their own value system. The climax of both plays is the reenactment of the crime.

I would really like to see this again.
ceebeegee: (Default)
God, I am SO SICK of productions of Godspell with the same old tired trope of male Jesus and Judas. The show is about the Gospel of St. Matthew with mixed genders apostles dressed as clowns, invoking every current pop reference out there--you'd think SOMEONE besides me would've thought of actually casting a woman as something other than adoring groupie. BORING.
ceebeegee: (Default)
So, so happy! How wonderful! Congratulations, Tony and everyone else!
ceebeegee: (Default)
Does anyone have this album? I just need a couple of songs from it--or at least I'd like to listen to it before buying it. I saw it on Broadway and remember a couple of songs that I really liked, "Missing You" and "The Honor of Your Name." Unfortunately neither Amazon nor iTunes offers a single song option for the album (in fact, iTunes doesn't even have the album...).
ceebeegee: (Helen of Troy)
Michael and I saw Cat on a Hot Tin Roof last night. For the most part I thought it was pretty good, although not transcendently good (so no standing O from me). Anika Noni Rose did a great job as Maggie--not really the way I would've played it (I thought she missed a lot of the musicality of the role) but she did interesting things with it. Terence Howard was good in the intense scenes--his monologue about Skipper was quite good--but he was a little too subdued in the other stuff. He just looked drunk, not motivatedly drunk (IOW, I didn't see why he was drunk, I didn't see the torment within, even a hint). Was quite impressed with Phylicia Rashad, who I thought was wrong for Big Mama. She didn't seem the type but she came through--amazingly vulnerability from her. Great face, it registered a lot. I'm sorry to say, I was disappointed in James Earl Jones. I thought he missed a LOT in his monologues--seemed to rush through them instead of experiencing them, and I found it difficult to understand him sometimes. His cry in the third act, when Gooper says "sounds like the pain has hit" should be like a dying animal, a bellow, much bigger and more primal than it was. And when he realizes the truth at the end of Act II he should be MUCH more affected than JEJ played it--he has been betrayed, they're all "LIARS!" It seemed very casual.

Giancarlo Esposito as Brother Man was great, as was his Sister Woman. Their kids were cute and appropriately annoying except for the one who has the scene with Maggie--horrible, annoying child actor who played her scene like Dee from "what's Happening!!," ridiculously sarcastic and snotty. She also lounged on the couch during the curtain call--her father is Terence Howard so I doubt she's going to get called on it.

The set, transparent scrims for the walls, was neat except for the badly painted moon and the lame-o fireworks. And I liked the much-criticized "spotlight on monologues" thing that Allen had going, except for one fade-in that happened too quickly. However they didn't use the Elia Kazan ending (the one where Brick makes it clear to Gooper and Mae that he's backing Maggie's story)--they used the earlier one that Tennessee Williams wrote, that ends with Maggie turning out the lights and saying "you weak, beautiful people who give up! What you need is someone to take hold of you, gently, with love!...I do love you, Brick, I do!" Brick: "Wouldn't it be funny if that were true?" The writing of that last exchange is lovely of course, but I prefer the other ending, where Mae is screeching at Maggie, saying "we know you're not pregnant, we hear the nightly pleading and the nightly refusal." And Brick says "Sister Woman, how do you know we don't come to some kind of temporary arrangement?...Oh, I know some people are huffers and puffers, but others are silent lovers." Mae says in amazement "I cannot believe you are stooping to her level, I simply cannot believe you are stooping to her level." And Bricks says to Maggie "What is your level? Tell me so I can sink or rise to it." That's beautiful writing too, and it shows Brick has had a transformation--something has happened, something has changed. The other ending is awfully defeatist.

The audience was interesting--they laughed at everything. It was very unsettling--yes, Cat is nominally a comedy but it's really more of a Chekovian comedy, not a yukfest. It seemed as though the actors started playing to get laughs as well (at least some of them--JEJ and Terence Howard, certainly) which definitely undercut some of the power of these moments. For example, TH delivered the Skipper monologue, JEJ's next line was something like "are you done?" and he said it very quickly, as though it were a comic line. Of course it got a huge laugh, which completely undermined the power of TH's monologue.

I wish they'd tinted Terence Howard's hair a little redder (like Malcolm X's)--Brick got his nickname from his hair and they cut that reference in the script so the name made no sense.

The four (white) people who sat behind us were apparently annoyed that "the whole play is in Ebonics" (according to Michael). This amused and infuriated me by turns--no, it wasn't in "Ebonics," the entire script was pretty faithful to Tennessee Williams and nothing was rewritten, as far as I can tell (and I know that play very well). If you're referring to the "blaccent," well, the whole cast is black, what did you expect? They sounded great. Morons. The four of them left after the second act.
ceebeegee: (Default)
Ryan just got cast in Shrek on Broadway!!!!!!

Yay my lil' bro!!!!! Woo hoo! So, so happy for him!!!
ceebeegee: (French Quarter in New Orleans)
This looks interesting. I'd love to see Cat again--I missed it the last time it was on Boradway (although Ashley Judd doesn't strike me as Maggie at all). The talent seems good--I LOVE Giancarlo Esposito as Gooper, that sounds perfect although he does seem a little old. (And I had no idea he was in Merrily We Roll Along on Broadway. That means he knows Jason Alexander, who knows Peter--so I am three degrees of separation from GCE, and four from Spike Lee.) Phylicia Ryshad as Big Mama seems off--PR is such an icon of strength, she seems miscast as Big Mama (and I've always seen BM as small and fat) but maybe she's got the range to pull it off. James Earl Jones is a great choice for Big Daddy (although--dude, smile in your picture). I have to say, I'm curious as to how the color casting is going to play. Cat is about a jumped-up white trash plantation family in the South in the '50s, and its dynamics are very specific to that, especially Big Daddy's dynastic pretensions (he's aping the "Gotta have an heir" obsession that WASPs used to have--some still do, although it's much less common now and seen as pretty silly). It would work better for me if they'd just cast Big Daddy with a black actor, because it would add an interesting level to his upward social climb. Another interesting idea would be to set it in New Orleans, since there was a thriving culture of people of color--wealthy and those trying to be. Are they still going to have black servants? Is Maggie still a former beauty queen? Like it or not, in the '50s the Southern black family (in Mississippi yet) that did all these things was virtually non-existent.

(And can I just say how much I love that Anika Noni Rose listed From Justin to Kelly in her bio? You go, girl, embrace the flop! I actually didn't hate that movie.)

I would love to play Maggie.
ceebeegee: (Default)
Michael and I saw Disney's Broadway version of The Little Mermaid last night. I thought it was pretty damn good--not quite as good as the movie but it would be tough to top the possibilities that animation affords. For example "Under the Sea" wasn't quite as amazing as the cartoon (my favorite part is during the bridge when Sebastian is syncopating the phrases, and then the key changes--it just KICKS IT UP a notch. "What do they got, a lot of sand?/ We got a hot crustacean band!")--I was hoping for some really amazing choreography but instead the Sebastian just WAILED. Dude could SANG. I personally would've cast a smaller man as Sebastian, because I think his basic shtick is "Hysterium"-like small-harried-man-doing-the-best-he-can , but this guy was great nonetheless. "Kiss the Girl" was very good though--they built it very nicely.

Sierra Boggess was terrific as Ariel--just adorable and sounded great too. Prince Eric was great, with more personality than I expected (Disney princes can be somewhat underwritten) and a nice sound. They actually had quite a good chemistry together. As far as Ursula goes--I would've directed it differently. Sherie Renee Scott was a little too campy for my taste--Pat Carroll's Ursula was pretty campy but she was always 100% motivated and focused. She wasn't performing for us the audience, she was performing in order to manipulate Ariel, which is why as funny as she was, there was a real menace underneath it all. A similar note for Flotsam and Jetsam--they were comic rather than titillatingly scary as they were in the movie. Together...forever...

I did like Ursula's costuming--they didn't quite replicate the movie, but her tentacles were creepy nonetheless.

The kid who played Flounder was ADORABLE and very natural. He got to sing his own number with Ariel's sisters and nailed it. King Triton was smokin' hot--obviously Triton has a really good trainer down there on the ocean floor! I did like a lot of the scenery--the colors were beautiful, I liked how they differentiated between the surface of the water, and when you were underwater, and between Triton's palace and Ursula's lair. However there was some kind of bong/water pipe-looking thing that I don't think really worked.

One thing I *loved* was how excited most of the audience was; when the intro to "Under the Sea" started someone--and it sounded like an adult--kind of gulped and then clapped quietly, and then you could feel the excitement spread to others (like ME, I was trying not to bop too conspicuously in my seat). Such a great song.

This is my favorite number in the movie--I want to play Ursula some day! I love how it builds musically, so that Ariel is so caught up, she is compelled to sign at the climax of the song. Michael, if you skip ahead to 6:15, you'll see the Freudian moment I was talking about, when Ariel breaches the surface of the water in silhouette.



The fluke is the Duke of Soul (Yeah!):

ceebeegee: (Magical Dance)
I downloaded a couple of albums last night from iTunes--The Goodbye Girl and The Wedding Singer. I used to have the first one but I lost the tape a few years ago. It's not a bad score--some of the songs are quite sweet, like "I Think I Can Play This Part" and "Paula." "Richard Interred" is also very clever. The score doesn't blow me away exactly but I'm enjoying listening to it, probably because I love the movie so much. But the Lucy I hear through the songs seems a little too knowing--yes, Lucy is precocious but she's still 10 years old, a little girl. This Lucy seems older, like she's 12, and sounds older as well. Martin Short is an inspired choice to play Elliott, but I'm not sure about Bernadette--she seems a little too adorable for Paula, who is kind of a shrew in the first half of the story. I'm curious as to why the show did so poorly with two such big stars in the leads--it may have been due to the whole Richard III sequence, which is pretty dated nowadays. Come to think of it, I can't remember how they handled that in the Jeff Daniels-Patricia Heaton TNT remake a few years ago but then they missed a LOT in that remake. They left unchanged the things they should've changed and vice versa--the original is something of a period piece, and the remake missed a lot of that. I posted on the imdb message board about the anachronisms (or just plain bad research):

*Paula auditions for the show on the stage of a theater. This is not how directors have auditions now in New York City--they rent studio space. Auditioning in the theater makes it look like A Chorus Line.

*The remake takes place in Greenwich Village instead of the Upper West Side (in the original). There is not one grocery store anywhere in the Village where you can have two shopping carts side by side (when he comes up next to her and suggests they combine food expenses)--grocery stores are absolutely tiny in that area of the city.

*In the Greenwich Village of 2004, there is no way you'd have 3 muggers brazenly stealing purses in the daytime. Even at night that would be a big stretch--the Village is one of the safest areas of the city and is packed with people and they would be caught immediately. In the original, which took place in the UWS in the late '70s, it was believable because the city was a very different place then, with a high crime rate. But even supposing 3 muggers were stupid enough to try that in the Village in this era, it's *completely* ridiculous that they'd be able to get away that quickly--in a car? The Village has narrow short streets that are difficult to navigate--they would've hit a red light immediately, or come up behind another car. It's just not believable.

*How can a single, barely-employed mother afford even half the rent on a two-bedroom apartment in the West Village? It's an extremely expensive neighborhood. For that matter how can TONY afford it? Off-Broadway actors make crap for wages. Again, it was more plausible in the original, because the Upper West Side in the '70s was much more affordable (even adjusting for inflation).


*Sigh.* Why remake such a classic movie? To gild refined gold, to paint the lily...

However, I am LOVING The Wedding Singer--I enjoyed the show very much, and the score is just terrific. The opening number, "It's Your Wedding Day," is so soaring and fun, you just want to start belting it out. Also great are "Someday" (Julia's anthem) and "Casualty of Love"--hilarious! Just a great score.

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