Broadway Musical Reviews Review the Musicals You Like, Love and Loathe <![CDATA[Mamma Mia Quick Tip by Count_Orlok_22]]> Mama Mia! because I'm a sucker for ABBA. Don't tell anyone.
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<![CDATA[ Rain... a rock n' roll Broadway show]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2011 15:11:44 +0000 <![CDATA[The Addams Family (musical) Quick Tip by HDepew]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2011 01:41:33 +0000 <![CDATA["Billy Elliot: The Musical" Album Quick Tip by HDepew]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2011 01:39:07 +0000 <![CDATA[The Lion King (musical) Quick Tip by HDepew]]> Tue, 19 Apr 2011 01:37:38 +0000 <![CDATA[ Peter and the Starcatcher... the first journey to Neverland]]> If you are in the NYC area, or will be before April 24th I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you take a trip out to a small off-broadway theater to check out this amazing show.  Having been an avid Peter Pan fan since a young child, and for some reason seem to be spending my 25th year on a madd hunt following the lost boys around the country, this is one adapted tale that is unlike any that has come before. 

Peter and the Starcatcher is a fun, rather adult, telling of how Neverland and the infamous lost boys came to be.  With a cast of unforgettable characters, witty dialog and a light sprinkling of modern jokes writer Rick Elice has given the ultimate fan a play that I'm likely never going to forget.  Staged in a small theater, and having chosen a front row seat, I got an up-close and personal experience as the cast took me on an amazing journey from England to a small island when the H.M.S. Neverland is shipwrecked. 

With a small stage the set design is quite simple, but the originality of items used to create the props, costumes and set itself is quite amazing.  Giving the production more of an improv feel as the actors are fully the ones propelling the story forward as they illustrate the battle between the Bristish sailors and pirates seeking to steal the Queen's chest.  This alone is like a treasure hunt game as it gives children in the audience a chance to try and find how many household items are used to create the set and costumes.  A perfect example is the opening act in the second half.  Being so close to the stage I actually had to avert my eyes from some of the actors because watching them in their mermaid costumes, and the faces they were making as they sang was so hilarious that if I dared look directly at them I knew I would not be able to keep a straight face.  You can tell that these talented actors truly enjoyed playing these characters as they surely got to be children once again playing make-believe. 

Peter and the Starcatcher is an amazing play full of amazingly talented actors that really desereve immense recognition for this little play.  I wish I had been able to get this information out sooner so more could enjoy it, but there is a little over 1 week left, and if you are looking for something fun that you will surely never forget this is it.  It is an "all hands on deck" performance as the actors play multiple roles and the bring to life and whole new vibe to the classic Peter Pan story.  If the young kids in the audience are old enough to really appreciate the humor, it will kick off a whole new generation of Peter Pan fans. 

So please check out the video below and then check out the link to the New York Theatre Workshop website to grab yourself a ticket before the curtain call.  You will not regret the decision.

BRANDON DIRDEN  Captain Scott 
ARNIE BURTON  Mrs. Bumbrake/ Teacher

TEDDY BERGMAN  Grempkin/ Mack/ Fighting Prawn

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<![CDATA[ American Idiot on Broadway... Real Rock n' Roll]]>
It has been 14 years since my love for Green Day first started. I remember waking up every morning at 4am for a morning figure skating lesson before going off to school. I wasn't the only person doing this of course, but I was one of the youngest. At 10 I dreamed of nothing more than one day wanting to be an Olympic figure skater. I had my heart and dreams set on the 2006 and 2010 winter games. The only problem at the time what the fact that my coaches weren't happy with the fact that I was not like all the other girls out on the ice. I wasn't willing to just follow their every word, and I most certainly was not all about those figure skating dresses that everyone else on the ice was wearing. I was the "rebel" wearing shorts and a tank top and listen to Green Day in secret on my walk-man as I warmed up. But that was just the start to my problems. Two years later I was working on landing a double axle. Again my coaches and I weren't seeing eye to eye over my practice habits so I figured what better way to start off the morning than with a little Green Day. So like clock work, at 4:30am you would always find me standing at the juke box with a dollar in hand and punching in the code to play Longview. Probably not the ideal song to start the morning off with but man did it get me ready, and just as an added bonus... it totally pissed off my coaches. Well, it was with the Dookie album playing in the background when I finally stuck a clean landing. I had never been more excited than at that very moment. But many things have changed since then. I no longer figure skate and I haven't gone out of my way to purposely piss someone off in quite a while, but the sounds of Green Day have never left me.

By the time I started college I had a complete collection of Green Day CDs, posters that plastered every wall, my cd player in my car had a mix cd of their music that I could switch to whenever I was out on the road, and I was getting ready for my first concert. It took 3 hours to drive to New Hampshire for their show, and at the end of the night I was shaking I was so excited. Less than six months later I had bought tickets to another show but for a different venue, and this time I was general admission and determinded to get as close to the stage as possible.

For the entire show I was plastered against the barricade that lined the front of the stage. I was knocked around, stepped on, elbowed in the face, and drinched by the end of the show. And again, I loved every minute it. Hearing Billie Joe, Mike and Tre perform live was like nothing I had ever experienced and I could not get enough of it, and to top it off they are hands down #1 performers. They give you an amazing experience and great music every single time. All I can say is that I wish money was not so tight otherwise I would be on the road following their tours from city to city. But what can I say, I grew up listening and loving their music.

I've been lucky enough to work in a place that allows me the opportunity to see them perform every once in a while. Working the VMAs last summer I stood around like a little kid in a candy shop, jumping up and down, as I got to sit in and listen to their rehearsal session. But it wasn't just a rehearsal, it turned into a mini-concert. These amazing musicians truly love what they do and it shows every time they step up on stage. I have found, through my own experiences and by watching others, that on a large scale that is quite rare. To be able to give as much as they do when they are in the spotlight is a completely different experience and it shows. But now, with American Idiot opening on Broadway they are taking the game to the next level.

American Idiot is a punk rock musical that is just as high energy and fun as an actual Green Day concert. The performers that make up the cast give you so much of themselves that it is obvious that they are enjoying what they are doing as actors and musicians, as Green Day does for their fans. It is odd to think that they cast is primarily made up of 20-somethings that are my age, and have grown up with their music, just like I have. But it was clear in tonight's performance when one of the actors ran up to the mic at the end of the show and yelled "Oh my god I we get to perform with Green Day." It was an amazing surprise to see the band come out at the end of the show, and give us their own encore. The mini-show, on top of the already rockin' musical made the night one to remember. And I, thanks to some amazing co-workers, sat in the 2nd row with less than an arms length distance between Billie Joe and myself. The show ended with a bang, and I couldn't have asked for anything better.

If you are in the NYC area, or have the ability to come out, I would recommend checking out this show. The cast is a group of amazing performer who add to the overall appeal of the story being told through one of the greatest rock bands around today. The play is amazing and I guarantee that you will be rockin' out in your seat throughout the entire play. It is a one act play that will have you singing in the streets and wanting to go back for more.

For me, the journey continues. I will be hitting the road soon on a journey cross country. My plans before I leave NYC is to get a copy of the soundtrack so I will continue to have Green Day by my side when I need them most. The Broadway musical is just another thing to add to the reasons why I love Green Day. It has given me yet another visual story to the music that already fills my life.]]> Fri, 25 Mar 2011 20:29:56 +0000
<![CDATA[ Great first musical for kids - though choose your city wisely!]]>
Our first experience was at the Pantages Theater in Los Angeles (Hollywood) - and it was breathtaking.  The music draws you in and soars, but mainly the combination of the set design, costumes, and dance were what really added up to make for a memorable and totally unique experience.  It's sort of like going to a really great art exhibit that happens to have song and dance, in a way.  The design of the set and costumes is easily as remarkable as the music itself.

The second time we went was to share the experience with our 3 year old daughter.  This was at the Orange County Performing Arts Center in Costa Mesa, CA.  It was a significantly different experience.  The sets and staging felt smaller and less impressive somehow.  The vocals were noticeably less impressive - clearly the A-list talent goes to the major markets, or that was my impression as to why the singing was not as stellar.

From the point of view of a parent...
Being there with my daughter, I picked up on different issues with the theme.  I'd totally forgotten that Mufasa, the father character, dies!  Pretty disturbing for a young toddler / preschool age child.  Luckily we sort of played it off that he "went away" so as not to scar her.  Darn Disney and their penchant for killing off characters!  She found the hyenas a bit scary, but also intriguing and I didn't feel there was anything overall that was too intense.

My daughter now LOVES the score and we listen to it often (and by often, I mean incessantly ; ) in the car.  I think it's fantastic that she's so aware of the various instruments (walking down to see the orchestra pit left quite an impression).

Tip on where to sit
For this production, your seating really does matter, as there's some great close-up interaction with the animals as huge animal pieces come swaying from the back of the theater up to the stage just as the music soars - it's very exciting and beautiful... if you're down in front.  From any type of balcony location, you miss most of that action and just view from afar. 

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<![CDATA[American Idiot (musical) Quick Tip by MichaelN]]> Wed, 25 Aug 2010 18:32:03 +0000 <![CDATA[West Side Story Quick Tip by MNeulander]]> Tue, 24 Aug 2010 04:46:56 +0000 <![CDATA[The Phantom of the Opera Quick Tip by GreenSurf]]> Wed, 4 Aug 2010 21:56:03 +0000 <![CDATA[Wicked Quick Tip by GreenSurf]]> Wed, 4 Aug 2010 21:53:40 +0000 <![CDATA[The Phantom of the Opera Quick Tip by lyssachttr]]> Wed, 16 Jun 2010 21:50:16 +0000 <![CDATA[Mary Poppins Quick Tip by lyssachttr]]> Wed, 16 Jun 2010 21:49:23 +0000 <![CDATA[Wicked Quick Tip by lyssachttr]]> Wed, 16 Jun 2010 21:26:51 +0000 <![CDATA[The Lion King (musical) Quick Tip by lyssachttr]]> Wed, 16 Jun 2010 21:25:50 +0000 <![CDATA[ Some Hilarious Moments and Some Good Musical Numbers]]>
The added musical numbers did nothing to detract from the show and would only help to attract the average Broadway play attendee.  The jokes were delivered effectively whether it be the castle keeper throughing down a stuffed cow on King Arthur's knights, Arthur traveling on fake horses (throught the sound of coconut shells used like castanets) or the Knights who say neet asking to be delivered a "shrubbery."

Right now the show has ceased its run in New York and I am not sure if it is available anywhere.  Perhaps there may be a DVD available of the show.  If you are able to find this show, you should definately see it.]]> Thu, 13 May 2010 15:36:47 +0000
<![CDATA[Rent Quick Tip by Bethany_K]]> Sat, 20 Mar 2010 15:59:01 +0000 <![CDATA[Annie Quick Tip by SLehfeldt]]> Tue, 16 Mar 2010 18:57:45 +0000 <![CDATA[The Addams Family (musical) Quick Tip by MichaelN]]> Tue, 16 Mar 2010 12:30:45 +0000 <![CDATA[ The Best Show Currently On Broadway]]> While New York city was hit with a massive snowstorm this weekend, I was lucky to experience the warmth and power of the sounds and visual beauty of this amazing musical on Broadway (actually half a block from Broadway).  I came to this show knowing virtually nothing about it other than it being a musical with African music.  I was floored immediately when I got there.  The story is about Fela Anikulapo Kuti, a Nigerian musician who made the government of Nigeria uneasy.

In the show Fela has an open dialogue with the audience while playing a mean tenor sax (one that is decorated and painted red) while beautiful dancers come out of the audience and gyrate to a sound that includes bongos, keyboard, guitar, alto sax and trumpets.  The music sounds almost latin in beat and it was hard to just sit and not try to move to the beat or tap your feet.  During the show Fela has the audience participate whether it is standing and trying to imitate the hip movements of the lithe dancers or to sing the chorus of one of the brilliant songs.

Throughout the show Fela is inspired by the ghost of his mother who makes a few very dramatic appearances and sings with the voice of an angel.  Through her inspiration Fela goes to the United States (late 60's) and is introduced to the Black Power movement.  He returns to his native Nigeria and makes political songs that makes the Nigerian Government uneasy.  We are told that Fela ran for Nigerian President, was arrested some 200 times, constantly beaten and his headquarters raided where many of his women dancers were attacked and his mother murdered.

The story had me scrambling to Wikipedia to learn more about this historical figure who seems to have left a huge impact on his country and touched so many US musicians too.

This show had more energy than any show I have seen in recent memory and it is a wonder where the dancers get the energy to sustain themselves through the three hours of the show.  I have seen about 15 Broadway musicals over the last few years and this one tops them all.  A truely unforgettable experience that should not be missed!]]> Thu, 11 Mar 2010 12:18:16 +0000
<![CDATA[Rent Quick Tip by seth76]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2010 17:46:02 +0000 <![CDATA[Avenue Q Quick Tip by jbeswick]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2010 06:24:04 +0000 <![CDATA[ The Lion King: Inspired Design for a Wonderful Story]]> Overall - The Lion King was very well done - combining everything I loved about the animated Disney film with everything I love about theater. Using incredible techniques, this production had a design aesthetic all its own and has earned a position in Broadway history because of it.

Story - Based loosely on Shakespeare's Hamlet, the musical's story is the same as the film's: Scar, in an attempt to claim the crown, kills the current king and attempts to have Pride Rock's heir, Simba, killed. But Simba survives and lives a life of "no worries" with Timon and Pumbaa in the jungle, until his intended, Nala, finds him and persuades him to return to claim his rightful crown from his tyrannical uncle. As a kid, I fell in love with this story and so am happy they keep it the same for the musical; however the stage version, though enjoyable, left me aching for something more.

Score - The show features all of the wonderful music from the animated film, plus a couple additional songs written for the show, including the beautiful "Shadowland," sung by the lionesses. Like all of the other Disney adaptations, I wish they had shortened the production and added songs to the emotionally heightened moments rather than throwing in additional character development pieces. A couple of skunks, like "The Madness of King Scar," feel horribly unpolished.

Actors - I saw the touring production when it came through Minneapolis in 2003, and thought it featured a nearly perfect ensemble. Though no specific performance stood out, the overall cast worked together to great effect.

Concept - The design really made the show - setting it apart from the other productions Disney has brought to the Great White Way, but I couldn't help but feel they could have done more. The opening was the most wonderful piece of the production - when all of the animals come to pride rock (check out the clip below). I just wish more of the show might have been that powerful.

Summary - Not life changing, but it was a very beautiful way to tell a wonderful story. Worth seeing if for nothing more than the opening "Circle of Life" sequence.

]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2010 06:04:09 +0000
<![CDATA[Musicals Currently Playing on Broadway]]> Fri, 5 Mar 2010 04:04:35 +0000 <![CDATA[ He was America's first true superstar!]]> George M. Cohan could do it all!  Incredible as it may seem Cohan made his debut on the stage at the ripe old age of three months when he was used as a prop!  Along with his parents and sister Josie, George was part of a vaudeville act known as the Four Cohans.  Yes, show business was in George M. Cohan's blood from a very early age.  From these humble beginnings George would go on to a storied career as an internationally renowned entertainer, composer, playwright, lyricist, actor, singer, dancer, director and producer.   Because he was so doggone versatile, George was able to envision and help to create an art form that no one else had ever really done before--the musical comedy.  In 1903, George M. Cohan's "Little Johnny Jones" opened on Broadway featuring  the venerable tune "Give My Regards to Broadway."  It was a huge success!   Over the next 16 years hardly a year would pass without a least one (and usually several) George M. Cohan musicals playing on Broadway.  In fact, in the years leading up to World War I George M. Cohan would come to be known as "the man who owned Broadway".   In addition to all of his other accomplishments Cohan was also a charter member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Producers (ASCAP)  a non-profit performance rights organization  that protects its members' musical copyrights. 

Today, more than six decades after his passing, the music of George M. Cohan remains an important part of the social fabric of our nation.  On patriotic national holidays such as Independence Day, Memorial Day and Veterans Day such venerable Cohan tunes as "You're A Grand Old Flag", "Over There" and "Yankee Doodle Dandy" can be heard in band concerts in small town America as well as in spectacular parades in many of our major cities.  In addition, many of his plays are still performed by high school, college and local theater ensembles.   Cohan remains the only individual to have a statue erected in his honor on Broadway.  On July 3, 2009 the people of his hometown of Providence, R.I. honored their famous native son with "George M. Cohan Day".   The festivities included the unveiling of a sculpture designed by internationally known sculptor Robert Shure.  At the same time,  the City of Providence renamed the area where the sculpture will stand "George M. Cohan Plaza".   The ceremony concluded with two students from Rhode Island College performing a medley of Cohan's music.  It was a most fitting tribute to the man and his music.  My wife and I were in attendance and had a fabulous time.

America at the beginning of the 21st Century is certainly a far different place than the nation Mr. Cohan knew all those many decades ago.  Today we celebrate the great diversity of our nation and rightfully so.  But I am afraid that we have been much too quick to discard and dismiss a good deal of our nation's history.  There should be room for it all.  George M. Cohan remains an important figure in the history of the arts in our nation.    Let us never forget him!  ]]> Sun, 5 Jul 2009 16:20:27 +0000
<![CDATA[ I Dreamed A Dream]]>

It's one of the musicals which I've long forgotten. If not for Susan Boyle.
I landed in London early morning 4 years ago or possibly even way back, very early, about 6 am after 12 hours in the air. Had the hotel concierge got me a ticket and that was the only night he managed to find a ticket to the show. Spent the day around London & by the time I got to the musical, I was not tip top. Ok, I'm owning it up here... I even dozed off half way through the show (it was a long one btw). I was out of control, simply couldn't help it! Jet lag!!!

But, I do remember this song. I knew I liked it, but there are many other songs which I liked too. This is a review about Les Miserables, but it is not exactly about the musical which I originally saw many years ago. That show didn't leave a deep imprint on my mind, much less my heart!. Although it certainly did my colleague who had actually watched it 5x, I was recently told. Les Miserables, 5x? OMG!

What I had originally wanted to review about is this song "I Dreamed a Dream". I'm not in the mood to set up data point today as it frustrates me to some degree, so I am taking the short cut. What I'm trying to say is this... at times, something in a show, movie, or event, makes it bigger than it otherwise is. This is one instance. Susan Boyle's rendition of the song makes it a stunning revelation; a calling which deep down we all have at some point in time, very much in tune with the world's circumstance! It is a case of "There's nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come (Victor Hugo)". It speaks to the world audience, of desperation, of hope, of the past, the present & the uncertain future.

When Fantine was unemployed & destitute, it is the same circumstance as many of us are in right now. When Susan Boyle sang the first verse, I was touched deep inside. Deeply touched. It's something in her voice that did it. I couldn't help myself from shedding tears. Not because I think she's destitute or because she's pathetic. It's not her, and possibly not even her voice. It is not the song either. I think it is HER rendition of the song. In this case, she has made something which have existed in public eyes for decades and turned it into something of a miracle. That to me is God is speaking.

Trivia: The song I dreamed a dream has also been sung on the night of President Clinton's inauguration. Another lovely song is Out on My own sung by Lea Salonga.

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