Posts Tagged ‘musical’

It was announced today that Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, who attempted to assassinate President Gerald Ford, is going to be released from prison on August 16. The other would-be Ford assassin, Sarah Jane Moore, was released back in 2007.

Both were members of the Manson “family,” and are featured in the musical Assassins by Stephen Sondheim and John Weidman.

Someone needs to immediately start writing a fictional sequel (also a musical, of course) in which the two women reunite, and conspire once again to do what they failed to do 34 years ago: to assassinate Gerald Ford.

I imagine the two senior citizens will go on a long journey to accomplish their goal, only to fail at the very end, when they reach President Ford’s home and realize that he passed away in 2006.

7:44 pm Comments Off on Assassins II: 34 Years Later

I really enjoyed [title of show]. It’s a Broadway musical about two guys trying to write a Broadway musical, and it stars the two guys who wrote it, along with the two women who worked on it with them. It’s exactly what you’d expect it to be–a song about writing an opening song, a long scene about a scene that’s too long–but it works. It’s touching and hilarious, and it’s especially great because you’re watching the very people who wrote it… writing it. If you’re in New York, I highly recommend it. It’s an underdog of a show, with no big stars or hit movie behind it, so it’s pretty easy to get tickets.

10:24 pm Reviews , Comments Off on [title of show] was [positive adjective]!

The Tony Awards were a lot of fun to watch this year because of the live performances, but we weren’t at all shocked by most of the winners. They seemed to match well with Roma Torre’s predictions on NY1 and with our own predictions. The only surprise of the evening was David Hyde Pierce for best actor in a musical. We thought for sure that Raul Esparza would win for Company instead, but I suspect the Tony voters were making up for David not winning a Tony for Spamelot. Hopefully Raul will get his chance in his next show.

11:05 pm Comments Off on Enjoyable But Not Very Surprising Tonys

The new Broadway musical Spring Awakening is based on an 1891 German play about teenagers discovering their sexuality in a strict, prudish German town. The adults are unwilling to be straightforward and honest with the teenagers about the changes they’re experiencing, and the children are victimized and hurt as a direct result.

The play has essentially been translated verbatim, but songs have been added and both characters and plot points have been fleshed out. The play still takes place in 1890’s Germany (apparent in the costumes and minimal set pieces), but the songs are full-on modern rock.

It actually works remarkably well. The songs generally happen as inner monologues, or as expressions of emotion when words aren’t enough. And it makes sense that in these teenagers’ heads, they hear something akin to rock music. Because rock music has always represented youth, and how youth is misunderstood by the adult world around it.

The show is edgy, unexpected, and full of captivating, addictive tunes. It’s satirical in both comedic and dramatic ways, and it tells its story very well. It also helps that the cast of young actors (plus the two adult actors who play all of the adult characters) are superb, easily attacking both the rock music and the antiquated dialogue with great conviction.

I don’t want to say too much about the content of the show, because you need to see it for yourself. A limited number of $25 student tickets are available at the box office beginning at ten o’clock daily, and there are always seats on stage available for $36 if you’re not squeamish about that sort of thing.

5:00 pm Reviews , Comments Off on “Spring Awakening” Rocks

Mary Poppins: The Broadway Musical was not so great. It would have been one thing if they’d just taken the movie and turned it verbatim into a musical: We wouldn’t have been surprised by anything, and it wouldn’t have been anything new, but it still would have been entertaining. But instead, they decided it was important to change every single scene–for the worse. Every iconic memory from the movie was missing or thrashed, the plot was choppy, and the whole theme of the show was way off.

I can’t name every wrecked scene, but I’ll give an example. For some reason, they felt it was necessary to move the “Spoonful of Sugar” scene to the kitchen. Okay, that might have been fine, but then they decided that it wasn’t the kids’ fault that the kitchen was messy–it was the butler’s fault instead–which completely ruined the whole point of having that scene in the first place!

And then to make up for the missing plot points, they just interspersed new scenes where Mr. Banks scolds everyone and Mrs. Banks mourns being his wife, so that it’s clear he’s an awful parent/husband and that the children and Mrs. Banks are victims. These scenes make the plot choppy, because the whole show went back and forth like a pendulum: a song and dance with Mary Poppins followed by a serious scene about family dysfunction.

Another example of a wrecked scene: Obviously they couldn’t do “Jolly Holiday” in a watercolor vacation land with animated livestock, but instead… they set it in the park (which turned from winter to summer, woo-hoo), with half-naked “statues” coming to life and dancing. I felt it was not only disturbing, un-jolly, and boring, but that it was also somewhat inappropriate for a young audience.

The list of bad choices goes on and on: Mary Poppins quitting her job, the Banks family hiring a replacement nanny (think Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty who used to be the nanny of Mr. Banks, the kids not spending their coins on birdseed from the bird woman (Mary Poppins pays for it instead, and the kids save their coins), the Banks children not getting into trouble at the bank, the “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” scene taking place in a carnival-like store that sells “ounces of conversation,” Mrs. Banks being ashamed because she used to be an actress (random!), Mrs. Banks not being involved in the suffragette movement, the children’s toys coming to life and sentencing them to imprisonment (which is still better than the British version, in which they’re sentenced to death by firing squad), and finally a completely unnecessary scene in which Mary Poppins takes the children into outer space.

The only good scenes were the conversation between Mr. Banks and Bert (because it was left exactly as it was in the movie) and the whole “Step in Time” number (which once again was very faithful to the movie). Since the writers decided that the movie’s dialogue for the scene in which Mr. Banks has his revelation (the climax of his plot) was irreplaceable, I can’t imagine why they didn’t realize that the same choice would have benefited the musical throughout.

Thank God for the cool special effects, or else we would have walked out after about half an hour.

4:43 pm Reviews Comments Off on Let’s Go Force a Kite Down the Audience’s Throat

Tonight I watched a preview performance of In My Life, a new musical by Academy Award-winning composer Joe Brooks.

It’s one of the few shows on Broadway that is not based on any pre-existing piece of material. In fact, the only other one I can think of right now is Avenue Q, but even that is a parody of Sesame Street. That’s why I was so excited to see In My Life; it’s a completely new show. And I wasn’t disappointed.

The plot is a simple love story between a songwriter who has Tourette’s Syndrome and an obsessive-compulsive editor for the Village Voice. Their idiosyncrasies aren’t really the conflict of the show, however. The conflict is between them and heaven, because they’re actually players in “God’s reality opera.”

I refuse to give away any more of the plot, but it’s terrifically bizarre, and the audience is very confused at first, but eventually they’re forced to give in to its craziness. And if you’ve been curious about the billboards full of lemons… don’t worry, it’s explained pretty early in the show.

In My Life is truly refreshing…just like Dr. Pepper.

10:34 pm Reviews Comments Off on In My Life: Lemon… in a Good Way

I’m listening to Elegies: A Song Cycle right now. It’s a musical revue by William Finn from a couple years ago. As much as I love Spelling Bee, it’s really sad to me that a lot of people will buy the Spelling Bee cast album and think that simplistic music is all William Finn has to offer.

So if you’re buying Spelling Bee and want to buy something else (to qualify for the free shipping), please consider also buying a better example of his work, like Elegies.

12:17 pm Reviews , Comments Off on William Finn’s Cast Recordings

Every once in a while, I see a bunch of Broadway shows in rapid succession. This month is one of those onces.

A couple weeks ago I went with my family to see Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Beauty and the Beast, and Spelling Bee (which I had already seen off-Broadway).

Chitty was rather lousy except for the amazing flying car. You’ll seriously ask yourself, “How’d they do that?” Other than the car, though, expect a long show full of boring dialogue and painfully-simple songs. Thank goodness for Marc Kudisch’s spoiled-childish portrayal of the Baron of Vulgaria, which was the saving grace of Act II.

Beauty and the Beast was exactly what I expected, basically a staging of the movie, with some beautiful sets and some funny supporting roles, but overall unimpressive. The leads left something to be desired, but I suppose that’s to be expected from a show that’s been here for so long.

Spelling Bee, on the other hand, was just as hilarious as it was off-Broadway, and is definitely my favorite new musical this year. The music isn’t great, but the play is amazing, and it’s complemented by brilliant direction and acting. Also, Circle in the Square really is the perfect venue for this show; it feels like a school gymnasium.

This past weekend, I finally got to see Sweet Charity. Christina Applegate is not a singer, and that was painfully obvious, but her acting (and dancing) more than made up for it. Overall, the show was quirky, fun, and beautiful to behold. The dances were bizarre, as are the musical numbers in general, but it’s really the book that makes this musical great. Neil Simon’s script is perfect, and my favorite scene in the play (as it should be) was definitely the elevator scene between Charity and Oscar (played perfectly by Denis O’Hare). I actually didn’t care for O’Hare’s performance in Assassins last year, so I was pleased to see him redeem himself in another role.

Tonight I’m going to see The Light in the Piazza, which is one of the two remaining Best Musical nominees I haven’t seen. After this, I just need to get tickets to Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, and I will have successfully seen all the contenders.

I spoke too soon. Twyla Tharp is directing and choreographing a new musical using the music of Bob Dylan. Yes folks, Bob Dylan. And it’s a dance musical. No horrible idea I could have imagined could ever have compared with this, and it’s not even made up.

6:20 pm Comments Off on A New Inspired Musical

Good Vibrations is closing this weekend on Broadway. I’m sad about it because I’ve become quite a fan of the show. Still, you’d think it would spark the end of this era of classic pop music-inspired musicals (Mamma Mia, We Will Rock You, All Shook Up, Movin’ Out, and the soon-to-open Lennon, to name a few), but now it’s just getting even more random with the introduction of a new musical based on the music of Neil Sedaka.

Clearly there’s still time for me to write Lovecats, a dance musical based on the music of The Cure.

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