Musical Monday.....errr.....Wednesday: Play edition
Last week brought the tragic loss of Robin Williams. Among being a comedian, and Oscar-winning actor, he had a couple of Broadway stints as well. This week’s Musical Monday: Play edition honors the most known of his two White Way gigs.
Can you believe 2015 seasons are already being announced? Well they are! This week’s company has become my Valley theatre home in terms of being an audience member, performer and choreographer. The titles they have lined up for 2015 are wonderful in terms of classics with a few moderns that are sure to captivate all genres of audience. Here now is the 2015 season of Good Company Players!
This week’s Musical Monday is a Tony-winning show that is based off the wonderful story entitled Pygmalion. Just a few years ago I saw a wonderful national touring production of this Broadway classic, and I’m just as excited to highlight it for this week’s Musical Monday!
You know when Harold Hill and a pool table are in an Iowan town there’s gonna be trouble…..in the best kind of way. Centerstage Clovis’ recently closed production of The Music Man entertained the Valley audiences with Meredith Wilson’s delightful tunes, a great story with all the fun-loving characters, and dancing that was visually energetic.
Now that the show I am currently performing in has opened, and I have survived through tech week, a much needed break after, and week 2 of our run, I can finally get back to my normal weekly postings. We start by continuing the trail of Best Musical winners from the first Tony winner to the current. We pick it up in the 1954/1955 Broadway season. Happy Musical Monday!
Four performers, a pianist, and a unit set. That’s all one really needs to stage [title of show].However, if the four performers you have cast have an aptitude to understand how to perform and bring out the [title of show] material in a challenging and personally effective way, it will be even better. If your pianist is a master of the instrument, as well as has some wonderful comedic timing, it will be even better. And if your unit set and few props and chairs are well -designed for the space you are performing in, then it will be even better. Director Joel Abels nailed all three of these aspects in the recently closed, yet very memorable, production of [title of show].
Good morning Baltimore! Reedley River City Theatre is currently running an energetic production of Hairspray. While the space may limit the expected Hairspray pizazz and oomph, this production allows for the story to be told in an up close and personal form that audiences won’t experience in most other venues.
Last Friday Artists’ Repertory Theatre opened up their production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? which stars four of the finest performers in the area. Those who are not aware of the impact this show may have on you (whether you play “games” with your spouse when company is over or not) are in for one heck of an evening at George and Martha’s home.
I only saw the show on Broadway because it had won the Tony Award for Best Musical recently, and the original cast was still playing. Little did I know or expect just how exquisitely crafted a show like Once is. I felt the feelings. I enjoyed the music. I loved every bit of the ride that Edna Walsh’s book, and Glen Hansard/Marketa Irglova’s music and lyrics took me on. Therefore, when SHNSF announced they would staging the currently touring production of Once I lept at the chance to see it again. So that’s what I did a few Sunday matinees ago, and enjoy it again I did!
The lights have dimmed on Broadway By The Bay’s Washington Heights. In The Heights marked the second show of the Peninsula-based theatre company’s 2014 season. I had the pleasure of catching Usnavi and the gang just before they closed two Sundays ago. As an audience member who saw this title twice during its national tour run, I was entering the Fox Theater with interest and anticipation as to how Broadway By The Bay would approach and stage such an intimately intense show on both sides of the emotional spectrum. They presented this show with talent, honesty, and a simplistic way of just telling the story. This production was, indeed, a fantastic showing.
Sierra Repertory Theatre has a knack for turning what could be an “easy to please” musical script and book, into a thrillingly good time at the theatre for its audience. Such is the case with their currently running country-type review, Pump Boys and Dinettes. The coffee is hot, the mechanics are distracted, and the pie is ready to be gobbled. This staging of Pump Boys and Dinettes (my first time ever seeing the show) is a silly good time, with comfortably forced moments of depth.
"Forbidden Broadway: Comes Out Swining!" show #425
My 2014 New York trip was wrapped up in the best way possible; seeing a professional (off-Broadway) show that makes fun of and spoofs the previous nine shows I just saw! Such was the case with the newest edition of Forbidden Broadway. When you take four talented performers and let them run rampant on all modern and classic things Broadway, you’re in for laughs, tears (from laughter), and holding your stomach (from laughing so much).
So I thought I had posted my Musical Monday last week only to find that it was still saved! Therefore, this week’s Musical Monday is now a couple days instead of a few days early for the big American holiday we just celebrated. Happy Musical Monday!
"A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder" show #424
It won the Tony Award for Best Musical. After seeing this Broadway trip concluding show, there is no doubt in my mind why it won the coveted title. It’s smart. It’s witty. It’s engaging. It will probably run for quite some time; but boy am I happy I saw A Gentlema’s Guide… for my final Broadway show this past trip!
This weeks’ Season Announcement highlight honors a Valley community that has been near and dear to me for a few years. They always pick titles that please the patrons and performers. Whether you know the show or not, you are sure to have an enjoyable theatrical evening when stepping into these doors. So, here is the 2014/2015 season of Playhouse Merced!
The musical that I attended on my Saturday evening of the NYC 2014 trip was Rocky. Now, I’ll be honest, I did not go into this show thinking it would necessarily change my life and be the “end all be all” of musicals. However, after Act 1 and some of Act 2, I realized why producers and Sylvester Stallone adapted this to the stage. Rocky “the musical” follows Rocky the “Oscar-winning movie”. The boxing nobody gets a lucky break in being chosen to fight champion boxer Apollo Creed. Rocky accepts the challenge, the drama, and training that goes along with it. He also is in hot pursuit of Adrian; local pet shop worker who is the apple of Rocky’s eye. In the end, the result of the boxing match doesn’t matter because the audience (both of the Winter Garden and of the story itself) is rooting for Rocky’s perseverance and dedication to himself, the sport, and to Adrian.
This week’s Musical Monday: Play edition honors this year’s Tony Award winning New Play. It was on my list of shows to possibly see just in case another show did not work out. Unfortunately, I was not able to see this production. There just aren’t enough days in a week long trip I guess. This being the closest I will get to seeing this play, I shall not drawl on. Happy Musical Monday: Play edition!
So now that all the Tony Award commotion has died down as the next season of Broadway begins to open up, I am moving back to our normally schedule posts. This week I am honoring a theatre company that is celebrating its 10th year anniversary this year. It has brought quality Shakespearean (and other genres of plays) to Fresno audiences, free of charge, under the stars, for a decade now. Without further ado, here is the 2014 season of Woodward Shakespeare Festival!
Harvey Fierstein has done it again. For the Saturday matinee of my New York journey I took in Fierstein’s newest produced work: Casa Valentina. It is set in a cabin/resort-esque space in the Catskill Mountains in 1962. The subject: men (who claim to not be homosexual) who escape their straight, married lives to enjoy a weekend spent dressed in drag as part of a sorority. What Fierstein’s script, Joe Mantello’s direction, and the talented cast do with this story is expose how any and every group will have some level of acceptance, love, or at least some members, that will choose another group to discriminate against, even when they themselves are always at the end point of a persecuting finger. The revelations and emotions are powerful, engaging, and overall convicting to any audience members who dare see it.
The Friday evening entertainment on Broadway brought me to the Stephen Sondheim Theater to take in Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. I had previously seen this production in San Francisco this past fall in its pre-Broadway tryout, and found it utterly enjoyable and beautiful (as the title suggests one might feel). The story, the subject matter, and, most of all, the music all come together for a brilliantly told story about, not just Carole King, but about the times surrounding her rise to (hall of) fame. Since there were only some significant changes from the previous review I wrote regarding the San Francisco tryout, below is the link to my review from then.
In an effort to not just honor the Tony-nominated/winning musicals from this season, I have chosen to honor the two winning plays for this week and next week’s Musical Monday highlight. This week’s won for Best Revival; so enjoy!
The city of Agraba has invaded the New Amsterdam Theater as Disney’s newest screen-to-stage adaptation has arrived with Aladdin. Chad Beguelin’s book does take some liberties from the movie, and changes up the indirect plot a bit; but not enough to deter any fans of the movie from wanting to see the beloved street rat Aladdin, the princess Jasmine, the villain Jafar, and of course the ever-loving Genie.
Just recently, Broadway producers added Thursday matinees to three currently running musicals in order to allow people the chance to see a Broadway musical at a new time. I took advantage of this addition and took in Mamma Mia. Every New York trip I see either a Broadway classic title and/or a long-running show. Therefore, Mamma Mia fit the bill for this trip. I have seen the ABBA music-infused musical one time before on tour in San Francisco several years ago; and now I have had the pleasure of seeing it at the Broadhurst Theater.
Now that the Tony Awards have concluded I shall continue to post the rest of my review from my New York trip.
When you go into a show such as Hedwig and the Angry Inch not knowing EXACTLY what to expect then you will be in for an experience unlike any other musical out there. It’s crude, it’s inappropriate, it’s real, it’s heartfelt, it’s thousands more adjectives you could throw at a page. The point is, the Belasco Theater is currently housing one of the most special, intense musicals that a New Yorker , or in my case, a Californian, or any audience member (best if at a mature-ish age) can witness. 2 actors, 4 band members, and an inspired creative team provide depth, conviction and encouragement all in one 90 minute rock concert-style package.
To see a musical revue on Broadway is one thing. For it to be nominated for several Tony Awards (including the top prize of Best Musical) is another. Now, with the other titles up in the same category I do not see After Midnight winning the coveted final announcement on June 8th. However, this show is a dance-lover, jazz-lover, music-lover, etc.-lover’s dream experience. Warren Carlyle (Director/Choreographer) has erupted a dancing/singing machine at the Brooks Atkinson theater that is worth every nomination, butt in seat, and whooping and hollering standing ovation it deserves.
Having just recently finished the story ‘The Ugliest Pilgrim” by Doris Betts, I was enthralled with the notion that such a tender little story could be made into a Broadway musical. After kicking off my 2014 New York trip by seeing Violet, I was not only engrossed in the beauty of the piece, but realized that sometimes musicals, with the right cast and team at hand, can influence the literature it is based off to bring a passionate meaning to its audiences. This cast and team are the right picks.
This week’s Musical Monday highlight takes on two Best Musical nominees. One is a childhood classic of mine, while the other is a Golden Age classic. Both are based off great films so of course they would be great musicals, right? Without anymore verbiage, here is this week’s Musical Monday highlight!
In 2010, Memphis won several Tony Awards, including the top prize of Best Musical. On Thursday, May 15th, I saw the currently touring non-equity production of he same title and witnessed, first-hand, why it won the Tony Award. It is a smart musical with an excellent amount of music (music and lyrics by Joe DiPietro and David Bryan), choreography and depth to transform the audience’s view of a few Memphis bred musicians as they struggle and climb to the top of their dreams.
This week’s highlight is one of my favorites companies to see National Tours at. They have a great downtown location, affordable prices for tickets, and a diverse lineup for all audiences. I am happy to highlight Broadway San Jose’s 2014/2015 season!
So due to the number of musical nominees and the amount of weeks until the Tony Awards a few of the Musical Monday posts will be a double feature. This week highlights the other revival nominee and one of the new musical nominees. Enjoy!
This week’s Season Announcement highlight honors a community theatre group that has blessed the south Bay Area since 1931. That is nothing short of impressive and honorable in a generation of lessening funds towards the arts. Their 2014/2015 season promises to be quite an awesome season, and is billed on their website as being “A Season of Mythic Proportions”. I wholeheartedly agree with this description!
How do you know if a high school production is good? When you forget it’s a high school level production. Such is the case for Clovis North’s recently opened up staging of Shrek. Having seen this show twice on tour, plus having the availability of the Broadway production on DVD, it is not an easy task to trust and equip a high school cast to pull off a successful staging of this caliber show. However, director Joel Abels and cast not only live up to the fairy tale challenge, but absolutely blow the lid off the swamp!
This week kicks off the Musical Monday highlights of the musicals that are up for Best Musical and Best Revival of a Musical. Now, some of the nominations I have highlighted in previous Musical Mondays, so these next few weeks will be the ones I have not yet highlighted. The exciting thing is that my upcoming trip to New York will include watching the majority of the nominees (so yay!). This week we start with one of the musicals up for Best Revival. Happy Musical Monday!
When William Shakespeare (allegedly) wrote Othello, do you think he knew how timeless the themes and messages would be? How Iago can influence, and orchestrate a near-flawless puppet show in which his original plan still comes to fruition? When Fresno State professor/director Brad Myers cast the recently opened production of the same title, do you think he knew that his staging of this Shakespearean classic could be summed up in one word? Brilliant.
"A Second Helping: The Church Basement Ladies sequel" show #412
Have you ever been sitting at home, watching a sit-com, and thought “This actually could pretty good on stage”? This does not mean it has to be a musical or anything, but that it could work? Well, the same goes the opposite way. So is the case with “The Church Basement Ladies sequel.” When sitting among a properly aged Sunday matinee audience watching a show about church ladies that work behind the scenes of the Lutheran activities, I could see how each scene and song could easily be a wonderfully received episode in the Church Basement Ladies musical.
This week’s delayed Season Announcement highlight will be hijacked due to the Tony Nominations being announced. Below is the link to the Tony Awards website in which you can check out all of the nominations. Hopefully you have either seen, or will be seeing the fabulous productions that the committee has deemed worthy of a possible Tony. Have a great week and go see a show!
This past Thursday evening opened up Good Company Players’ production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses at the 2nd Space Theater. This play, adapted from Choderlos de Laclos’s original book, takes the audience on a journey of deceit, lust, revenge, and innocence (mainly, innoncence being ended thanks to another person). With delicious social commentary and innuendo out the wazoo, this relevant piece is a delectably strong staging thanks to an adept cast and inspired direction by Karan Johnson.
In anticipation of the Tony Award nominations being announced tomorrow, I have decided to trek back to the stone ages of Best Musical winners and pick off where I left prior to diving into the Broadway Playbill Yearbook. So here we are with this week’s Golden Age musical Monday tribute!
Last Sunday evening I saw my first show at Children’s Musical Theatre San Jose (Marquee Production), which was Monty Python’s Spamalot. This musical spoof honoring the “Monty Python” series follows King Arthur, Patsy, and the knights Arthur employs to help find the Holy Grail. With plenty of one-liners, and musical numbers to entertain fans and non-fans of the iconic British comedy series, this version found its strengths in various ways other than laugh out loud humor.
So now that I have finished the Broadway Playbill yearbook for last season’s Broadway shows, I am now reading a book entitled “Strippers, Showgirls, and Sharks: A Very Opinionated History of the Broadway Musicals That Did Not Win the Tony Award” by Peter Filichia. In it, he goes into depth, chapter by chapter, into many musicals that didn’t win the Tony Award, and compares it to the musicals that did win the Tony that same year. This week’s highlight is one that did not win the coveted Best Musical Tony Award. Happy Musical Monday!
It has been awhile since I have sat through a straight play and thought, “I do not want this to end.” So was the case this past Saturday night as I saw the two-act, three-hour staging of Amadeus at City Lights Theatre Company. Peter Shaffer’s clever, and poignant script meeting with Lisa Mallette’s careful, and well-paced staging makes this Amadeus majestically beautifully on the City Lights stage.
Prior to this past Thursday evening, I have seen Wicked 7 1/2 times (3 times “officially” to my count; and don’t ask about the half). I saw the San Francisco company 5 and a half times, the tour when it came to Pantages Theater, and when the tour later went to Sacramento. So when I saw it in Fresno this past week, it would be the fourth different setting I have seen this show in. One thing I can safely admit is that Wicked is always going to be good no matter what limits the venue (Fresno’s Saroyan Theater) may impose on the production.
Last week I had the chance to catch, just in time, Theatreworks’ production of Once on this Island. This underrated, underplayed Ahrens and Flaherty musical is the show based off Rosa Guy’s book, “My Love, My Love”. A story of Ti Moune and Daniel’s peasant/rich divided love which is sourced from a bet between the four Gods we meet is a tender story that is filled with tradition, pride, and devastating loss. Although it has since closed, if you were one of the lucky ones to see this production, then you experienced as close to a perfect production as there can be.
This week’s season announcement highlight is fresh off the press! This has been one of the premier companies to see tours with. I have been attending shows here for several seasons now, and have always enjoyed my time, and the titles they bring. So without further wording or introduction, here is the 2014/2015 season of Broadway Sacramento!