Sunday, October 23, 2011

The Submission

The Submission - Lucille Lortel Theatre (Viewed: October 2011)
Last night, I saw the final performance of this riveting play that outwardly shouts the uncomfortably topics of race, gender, sex and so on. It's perfectly written and directed, and the four actors, individually, have strong, key roles that balance each other out.

Having been a fan of Jonathan Groff (Danny, the "real" playwright) in Spring Awakening and "Glee", it was awesome watching him live/in this intimate theatre - playing a hard-headed character, who [subconsciously] is a jerk and possibly a racist. Rutina Wesley, who is known as Tara in "True Blood", is smart, strong and stands to her guns as Emily (the "fake" playwright). Eddie Kaye Thomas was superb and hilarious as Pete (Danny's boyfriend/supporter/non-theatrical character), and Will Rogers was the perfect Trevor (chill grad school friend of Danny; later boyfriend of Emily).

I found this to be a powerful play that I wish I could have seen over and over again. Bravo!

The Submission is about a young gay man, who wrote a play about a black family in the projects. With concerns of not being accepted (for being a white man) for writing such a deep, dark story (about a black family), he hires a black actress to be the playwright until after the premiere performance at a distinguished festival.

Friday, October 21, 2011

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying - Al Hirschfeld Theatre (Viewed: September 2011)
This musical is such a treat (and I highly recommend that everyone sees this!!)! I have been eager to see this revival since the opening - especially while Daniel Radcliffe was still performing - so really glad I had the opportunity to snag rush tickets ($30 and suggest arriving to the Box Office at 8 a.m. to beat the line; office opens at 10 a.m.).

Right from the start, I fell in love. I will be honest - I didn't think I was going to like this story (nor did I think Daniel Radcliffe had Matthew Broderick's chops for the lead), but the choreography and the singing was TOPS! Daniel is engaging, lovely and believable as J. Pierrepont Finch. Rose Hemingway has a delicate, yet powerful voice and the perfect Rosemary Pilkington, and the love story between her and J. P. Finch is adorable. Not to forget, Tammy Blanchard as Hedy LaRue, who is utterly hilarious and ultimately quite likable, and Christopher Hanke as Bud Frump, who is on point with his comedic timing!

Favorite part, you ask? Well, there are so many to pick! The dynamic between John Larroquette's J.B. Biggley and Daniel's J. Pierrepont Finch is perfection! I loved the "Grand Old Ivy" performance and wanted to jump out of my seat! Also, I really loved "Coffee Break" (can't get it out of my head) and "Brotherhood of Men" (for the complex and beautiful choreography)!

In a nutshell, I could not stop smiling or laughing throughout the entire show! This is definitely one of my favorites to date!!

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying won a 2011 Tony Awards® Best Featured Actor in a Musical for John Larroquette's role.

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying is a musical based on Shepherd Mead's 1952 book: How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (how fitting!).

J. Pierrepont Finch, a young window cleaner in New York City, aims to reach the top and refers to a "How To" book for directions on how to make it happen! He enters the World Wide Wicket Company searching for a job. Rosemary Pilkington, a secretary, is impressed with Finch and offers to help him, and eventually, he rubs elbows with CEO-guy J.B. Biggley and moves up from there. Of course, there are a few villains and trials he runs into, but a happy ending in the end.

Note: J. Pierrepont Finch will be played by Darren Criss (Glee) starting on 1/3/12 and Nick Jonas (Jonas Brothers) soon after.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark

Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark - Foxwoods Theatre (Viewed: August 2011)
I've seen this show twice - first time, I was in the mezzanine (awesome when Spidey jumps up to my row); second time, I was in the orchestra (better view of the entire show, obviously)....

However, as I continue to type this review out, I struggle with this because on one hand I love it... on the other hand, I think it's lacking and could have edited out some scenes to make this more of a solid story line. Here's my breakdown:

Why I loved it...
  1. Peter Parker was casted perfectly! Reeve Carney has a gentle, yet strong voice and plays the "geeky" role so well. Green Goblin (Patrick Page) was just as amusing and talented, as was Mary Jane (Jennifer Damiano)
  2. The set. O-M-G, the set. It's truly the most beautiful set I've ever seen. Almost felt 3-D - bold colors - impressive!
  3. Loved (and hated) Arachne (T.V. Carpio). I loved her voice and the beautiful costume (and I'll tell you why I hated Arachne later)
  4. Bono and The Edge... please, they're amazing! The soundtrack is so beautiful with well-written lyrics and the rock theme fits this type of play perfectly
  5. The acrobats... I mean, come on, it's sick! It's fun watching the Spideys fly. BRAVO!
 Why I hated it...
  1. [At least] two scenes could have been removed; thus, cutting down the length of the show
    • "Bullying by Numbers" - we all know the story - he was a nerd, so these characters and song was a waste of my time
    • "Pull the Trigger"  - I didn't understand this whole military scene... could have omitted this entirely
  2. Arachne... ok, so I loved T.V. Carpio; her voice is so melodic and soothing, but similar to my rant above, her character is not necessary to the storyline
  3. THE storyline needed to be smoothed out... I felt it was a bit all over the place with my above reasons
All in all, this isn't a bad review - I swear! I saw it twice, so I liked it the first time - and I do think it's worth seeing! SO GO SEE IT!
    Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is a rock musical with music and lyrics by Bono and The Edge. The musical is based on the Spider-Man comics, and it tells the story of the origin of the character, his romance with Mary Jane and his battles with the evil Green Goblin.

    Monday, October 3, 2011

    The Book of Mormon

    The Book of Mormon - Eugene O'Neill Theatre (Viewed: August 2011)
    BEST.MUSICAL.IN.THE.UNIVERSE! This is THE most sought after ticket on Broadway, and rightfully so (thus the CAPS in my entry sentence). I tried getting a ticket back in February and didn't find a match to my schedule (or more I didn't match to their schedule) until August... and the wait was worth it!

    I never thought a musical that cussed so much, talked about AIDS, famine, religion, etc. - and make the songs so catchy that you can't get it out of your head for weeks after - could exist. It's absurd! BUT that is The Book of Mormon.

    In raving about this [incredible] show, I feel like I have to be very vague about what I write, so that I do not ruin it for anyone, but what I will "text" is that you never stop laughing, the comedic timing of the actors are so perfect that it keeps you on your toes, and... it's very modern (i.e., topics, vernacular, story line) - which is such a departure from a typical musical.

    Therefore....IF YOU DO ANYTHING IN NY, GO SEE THIS MUSICAL! Just bite the bullet and buy the $100+ ticket... you could try the lottery, but trust me, I attempted that twice and the odds of snagging that 1:20 ticket when there are over 300 people around you is pretty slim.... BUT you may be lucky!

    The Book of Mormon won nine 2011 Tony Awards®, including Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical.

    Story Overview
    The Book of Mormon is a religious satire musical [comedy!] by the creators of South Park, Trey Parker and Matt stone, and co-writer of Avenue Q, Robert Lopez. The story centers around two young Mormon missionaries sent to a remote village in northern Uganda, where the [naive] missionaries try to convert the locals, who deal with much bigger issues (e.g., poverty and disease).

    Jersey Boys

    Jersey Boys - August Wilson Theatre (Viewed: July 2011)
    Ahhhh... Jersey Boys. I could praise this musical all day long about how utterly amazing this show is on Broadway. However, first let me begin with the fact that I actually saw this in Chicago two years ago and haaaated the show. I was dreading seeing this again, but had guests in town, so I wanted to give it another chance... You may wonder, "What the heck is wrong with you!" But I must say, "It was Tommy DeVito that ruined it for me!" Let me explain further...

    An actor makes the character, right? Well, the actor in the first version I saw really made Tommy DeVito be a lot more of a jerk than how he was played on Broadway. Yes... there is supposed to be a bit of animosity towards the character being that he's kind of a trouble-maker and bad with money, but in the Broadway version, I really loved him - felt more for him and had a better understanding of his friendship with Frankie.

    So back to the review: THE.SHOW.IS.INCREDIBLE! The singing/choreography and the emotions tied with the superb acting really drew me in. I wanted to jump out of my seat and dance! I was really pulled into the story about how The Four Seasons became THE FOUR SEASONS.... Overall, it was touching to see connections between the four men and the struggles they went through to reach their success.

    Jersey Boys won eight 2005 Tony Awards®, including Best Musical and Best Book of a Musical.

    Note: Matt Bogart (Nick Massi) and Dominic Nolfi (Tommy DeVito) signed my Playbill (pictured above). They were sooo nice and charming. Also, funny enough, I saw Joe Pesci at dinner the same night that I saw the show. Love how his younger self makes an appearance... and cool to know he had a hand in adding the last puzzle, Bob Gaudio, to the group.

    Story Overview
    Jersey Boys breezes through how Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons came to be - coming from nothing and making it to the top because of the unique sounds and individuals in the group. Well-known songs, including “Big Girls Don't Cry,” “Can't Take My Eyes Off You” and “Walk Like A Man” are featured in this musical... so enjoy the feeling of being back in the 1960s - with bonus concert elements throughout the musical.

    Saturday, October 1, 2011


    Jerusalem - The Music Box (Viewed: May 6, 2011)
    Smart play. It had great actors, a deep story theme and a beautiful set - nothing simple about it. The lead character, Johnny "Rooster" Byron, was play by Mark Rylance (who won a 2011 Tony Award®), and without a doubt, I was impressed by his intense, drawn out monologues. I was sucked into "Rooster's" stories about the giant, etc.; therefore, Mark Rylance was a genius in his projection of the character.

    John Gallagher, Jr. (discussed here) was also incredible - playing that rowdy, young adult type he usually interprets. The "angel" girl character was hard to hear when she was singing in her angelic soprano, and I didn't quite understand how she tied into the end of the storyline. All-in-all (as I babble on like "Rooster" aka speed through this late review), I was neutral. My friend, who highly recommended it, raved on about the play, but I was slightly dissatisfied, although entertained.

    I'd say, "Go check it out to see for yourself," but the show closed August 2011.

    Story Overview
    In a matter of hours-time, Johnny "Rooster" Byron, the lead character - a drunk and wanted man - entertains young friends at his trailer home (while in the process of being evicted). The show is based off British history and cultural practices, and "Jerusalem" is not about religion or the city, but about an unofficial English anthem/poem by William Blake.

    Friday, September 30, 2011

    That Championship Season

    That Championship Season - Bernard Jacob Theatre (Viewed: May 2011)
    This play ran from March-May. It starred a stellar group of actors: Kiefer Sutherland, Jason Patric, Chris Noth, Jim Gaffigan and Brian Cox. However, there isn't much to rave about on this particular play. Here are my takeaways:
    • I was bored and wanted to walk out during intermission; I love Mr. Noth and Gaffigan though, so I fought through it. 
    • The only thing that intrigued me was the fake ice cubes (they were big!) and how they tossed around the cubes in their scotch drinks...
    Other than that, it was not that appealing for me. I did buy the theme of friendships, but the story, itself, was drab.

    Story Overview
    That Championship Season centered on a group of former high school basketball stars who return home (Scranton, PA) for a reunion 20 years after they won the state championship. This is set in 1972.