28 June, 2008

Tell Me, What Did I Do It For?

Now imagine that happening two feet in front of you. This means that when she chucks those itty-bitty pieces of paper, she chucks them IN YOUR FACE. That's why the woman is terrifying and that's why she won the Tony. Also, Laura's terrified gasp after "Momma is gonna see to it!" sort of makes my life. Good to note that at the beginning of this scene in the actual production, tears had actually been POURING down her cheeks and she was wiping them away like an 8-year-old. Not okay for me, really.

So, clearly, if you have the means and opportunity, go see this as soon as humanly possible. The show has effectively ruined all past and future productions of Gypsy for me, and I'm okay with that.

And, for good measure, the Tony speeches: Laura, Patti, and Boyd's isn't on YouTube, but you can read it here.

27 June, 2008

No Day But Today

I’ve never liked RENT. I still don’t. I think it is an objectively bad musical, poorly constructed, full of annoying songs and trite lyrics, and just barely carried out with flair. My dislike for this musical has embittered me against the oft-repeated refrain, “RENT was a revolutionary musical that changed the face of theatre forever.”

Then Tony night happened.

Since the Broadway production of RENT is closing this September, the powers that be brought the original and current casts together on the same stage for the 2008 Tony Awards in tribute to the show that “changed the face of Broadway.” They sang a “La Vie Boheme”/”Seasons of Love” medley and it wasn’t until they showed the audience reaction that I understood just what sort of impact RENT has had on the Broadway community. Among others, Sunday in the Park with George star Daniel Evans sat there grinning and singing along like the fan boy I now suspect he is and Patti LuPone herself was actually rocking out in her seat. These aren’t rabid, thirteen-year-old fangirls; these are industry professionals. But the most glorious moment – the moment that forever changed my perception of RENT – came when the old and new casts had barely finished singing and Lin-Manuel Miranda leapt to his feet, barely able to contain his tears of joy. It was then that I realized that the creation of In the Heights can be traced back directly to RENT.

RENT may not be the best of musicals, but it certainly broke the mold. It freed more talented creators to make musicals that speak to the youth of today, while retaining those elements of the Golden Age that make a musical a musical. And now I can join the throngs of theatre fans in honestly saying:

Thank you, Jonathan Larson.

More Like "Arrogantly Self-Important"

Stephen Holden of the New York Times recently wrote this about new musical Passing Strange:
The young man’s naïve infatuation with Europe, where he dives into a bohemian paradise of sex and drugs, inspires [...] a scathing response to his being fetishized as an angry black militant by a group of German cultural revolutionaries [...] In conclusion he wonders if he is “the postmodern lawn jockey sculpture.”

The term postmodern indicates the intellectual seriousness of the show."
I guess I should begin throwing in the term "postmodern" to my blog posts, lest all three of you who read it begin worrying about my intellectual seriousness.

26 June, 2008

Another Hundred People Just Got off of the Train

Yes, I did in fact go to NYC and make it back alive. The only reason I haven't written anything about it yet is because my real life decided to just start back up again right where I left it. Long story short, it was a theatre marathon and nearly as tiring as an actual marathon, but oh so satisfying.

Despite missing the first twenty minutes of In the Heights because United Airlines has the crappiest service in the history of the industry, the show was great and I had a great time with my aunt and uncle. That Saturday will go down as one the most memorable of my life because, after the show, I my aunt and uncle took me to dinner at The View and then I saw August: Osage County. If you enjoy really spectacularly excellent theatre -- the kind that leaves you breathless and screaming with delight all at once -- you have to go see it. Marvelous.

Then I had a Gypsy marathon comprised of the Sunday matinée, the best Tony Awards ever, a small Broadway by the Year - 1979 interruption on Monday night, the Tuesday evening show, and the Wednesday matinée. And the show got better every time I saw it and the dressing room fight at the end changed each night. But not like they were bored or goofing off. They were EXPLORING. It was brilliant. And Tuesday night's performance -- the one right after the cast won their respective Tony Awards -- was a performance that will live on as the most memorable show I've ever been too. Such entrance applause! And Laura breaking character (which she never does) and crying because of it. The intensity of the dressing room fight made me feel nauseated and "Rose's Turn" made me want to curl up in a corner and cry like a baby; Rose's hair was flying loose, she spat her words like snake venom, and then proceeded to have a complete nervous breakdown before my very eyes and I loved. Every. Second of it. Then I sat front row center on Wednesday afternoon, which really wasn't a good idea because Patti hit me in the face with the torn up letter at the end of "Everything's Coming Up Roses" and I almost died. No. Really. Front row is really too close for comfort if you get as emotionally involved as I do. I was on the verge of a heart attack from the train station scene on through the end. Ugh. I hate that show. And by "hate" I mean "love". Clearly.

Then I ended my trip with the jaw exercise that is the sweet show, Curtains. I have never smiled, laughed, and cried so much in a theatre in all my life. It was SO CUTE. Just a grand, old fashioned show with a lot of heart. I loved it. And we sat front row center (technically partial view, but not really), which made the stage door a bit embarrassing when half the cast recognized us. Oops. I'm so sad that it closes on Sunday. It's such a happy little show.

Anyway, great trip. And real live reviews will be coming soon, since I have the rest of the week off.

20 June, 2008

The Fairy Doth Protest Too Much, Methinks

So despite the fact that A Catered Affair didn't win a single Drama Desk or Tony Award, the impossibly self-important Harvey Fierstein has repeatedly boasted that his precious show has had higher grosses than three of the four Tony Nominated new musicals this season. What he left out is that grosses are one thing, but if your show is too boring to have significant advance sales, you're screwed.

As a result, A Catered Affair will close on July 27th, opening up the beautiful Walter Kerr Theatre for a show worthy of the space. A kick ass straight play along the lines of excellence of August: Osage County, perhaps?

10 June, 2008

Revive Me

There's something that has always bugged me about the theatre community at large and that is the widespread hatred of revivals. Lately, it's been all about the Gypsy hate. Not out and out hatred, mind you. These bitchy theatre queens will be the fastest to confess their love for the great musical. It's the "endless" revivals they can't stand. "It was JUST on Broadway," they complain. "The public is sick of it!"

But the public certainly isn't sick of it. Much of America doesn't even know what the hell Gypsy is, or A Chorus Line, or Company. They couldn't care less that you think Barbara Walsh was so inferior to Elaine Stritch that she doesn't even deserve the time of day from you. What your American tourist cares about is seeing a good show. Furthermore, and more importantly, what your teenage Broadway enthusiast ALSO cares about is seeing a good show. That 13-year-old who just got her socks blown off by Patti LuPone didn't get the chance to see Bernadette Peters in the very same role five years ago. And even if she did, she wouldn't have understood a lick of it.

Theatre by its very nature is a cultural art form. In order for the young'uns to know what is good, they must be enculturated with the good stuff. And that means revivals. It may all seem tiresome to someone who's been going to the theatre for thirty-some-odd years, but it's necessary to raise up the next generation of theatregoers, performers, directors, producers, and creators. Yes, new works are exhilarating. But you can't truly appreciate a new musical's newness until you've enjoyed what's come before.

So, when ten years from now Gypsy is revived again (Emily Skinner as Rose, anyone?), instead of complaining, stand outside the theatre as the show lets out and look at the faces of the young people who will have just seen it for the first time EVER. You'll no longer see a reason to complain.

More Baritone, Please

Say what you will about South Pacific, but it has some of the most beautiful baritone music in the history of Broadway. Perhaps that's why "Some Enchanted Evening" gets so many reprises in the show.

iTunes Top Five

Just because it's funny, my non-fudged top five most played Broadway songs:

1. "Unusual Way" - Laura Benanti - Nine
2. "I Know Him So Well" - Alice Ripley & Emily Skinner - Chess
3. "If I Told You" - Laura Benanti & Stephen Lynch - The Wedding Singer
4. "Another Hundred People" - Alice Ripley - Company
5. "Losing My Mind" - Alice Ripley - Follies

But if we're talking from the actual cast albums, it looks more like this:

1. "Unusual Way" - Laura Benanti - Nine
2. "If I Told You" - Laura Benanti & Stephen Lynch - The Wedding Singer
3. "No One Is Alone" - Laura Benanti - Into the Woods
4. "Someday" - Laura Benanti - The Wedding Singer
5. "My Husband Makes Movies" - Mary Stuart Masterson - Nine

Go ahead. Judge me. I deserve it. You don't even want to know the playcounts on these. Talk about embarrassing.

08 June, 2008

Reality vs. Reality

"In this age of reality TV, what is more real than watching a real person – with real talent – singing their heart out, or acting their heart out, or dancing—only for you? You paid [for] a ticket. You're sitting there and we're performing for you. To me, that is the ultimate human collaboration. And that's what's missing when it's just a camera in your face and you have to cry." (Laura Benanti, Broadway Beat: Meet the Tony Nominees)

07 June, 2008

Throw That Fairy Dust in My Hair

Sometimes I forget how much I love Stephanie J. Block. And then she sings "Never Never Land" again and I curse myself for ever forgetting.

Shoshana Bean gives and awkward and somewhat funny introduction, but feel free to ignore it and get to the good stuff. That being Stephanie acting the face off of Scott Alan's best song, "Never Never Land."

So Good, It's Painful

As I've said before, my favorite shows or movies are the ones that leave me incapacitated at the end. Literally in pain. These include shows like Gypsy and Next to Normal and movies like August Rush. But the funny thing about Gypsy is sometimes I get sick to my stomach just thinking about it. I don't even have to be watching it or listening to the cast recording. Merely thinking about the fight in the dressing room or last two minutes of "Rose's Turn" or the mocking laughter that erupts from the venom Louise's own mother cultured in her daughter's gut . . . I can't even deal.

And somehow I'm going to see this show three times in a row. Pray for me. I might just die.

06 June, 2008

You Can't YouTube It

Click open your iTunes (if it isn't already open) and search for the American Theatre Wing's Downstage Center podcast. You there? Okay. Now: download Sherie Rene Scott's May 2008 interview. If you don't have time to listen to the whole thing, listen to it around 28 minutes.

At that's why theatre kicks ass.

02 June, 2008

Tony Week '08

So, as many of you know, I'm going to New York City over Tony weekend. This morning, I finally got around to nailing down my itinerary:

Saturday: In the Heights & Gypsy
Sunday: Gypsy
Monday: Broadway by the Year - 1979
Tuesday: Gypsy
Wednesday: August: Osage County & Curtains

If you haven't seen Gypsy yet, I don't even want to hear any words of judgment come out of your mouth. If you had seen this show, you'd know that as many times as you could possibly go STILL wouldn't be enough. Truly.

Besides wanting to see it so many times, there's actually some sort of logic behind when I'm going. I'm rushing on Saturday because, clearly, there's no way I could wait until Sunday to see it. I'm seeing it Sunday because it's their last performance before the Tony Awards. And I'm seeing it Tuesday (front row mezzanine) because it will be their first performance after Patti, Laura, and Boyd all win their respective Tony Awards; a performance NOT to be missed. So I'm only mildly insane.

Also, I'm really excited about seeing August: Osage County. It's a straight play, something I've never actually seen on Broadway. All my closest friends who have seen it can't say enough about how good it is.