Thursday, February 28, 2008

Six Degrees Of Lea Michele

Nearly a year has passed since my first Spring Awakening experience. The winner of the 2007 Tony Award for Best Musical impacted me so deeply that I’ve since seen it six times since. I know that there are Guilty Ones whose attendance records are well into the double digits but then I’m not privy to the luxuries afforded to those with student discounts and 20-something lifestyles.

My love for the show has been the source of many laughs for those who know me, especially my husband. I can only imagine the water-cooler conversation he was having when he discovered that one of his co-workers grew up with Lea Michele. In fact, one of my favorite Lea Michele stories was at the stage door after the first time my husband saw the show (my fifth). He was trying to pass on well-wishes from his co-worker but butchered her maiden name. Lea stared at him blankly and then, realizing who he was talking about, corrected him in a flawless Italian accent. She sort of nodded her head, smiled and said a quick good bye. Then she dashed away, arm in arm, with her Altar Boy boyfriend Landon Beard. We affectionately refer to the experience as "the time that Lea snubbed Billy."

I have never seen anyone other than Lea go on for Wendla. I do enjoy what Lea brings to the role and I think that the music utilizes her vocal assets well. Even more so, I respect her (and her mother) for committing so deeply to this groundbreaking piece of theatre – especially at such a young age. Bear in mind, Lea’s been in the business for over 10 years. In fact, Spring is Lea’s fourth Broadway show and, in comparison to most of the other cast members, I think her sense of wonder has grown pale. That said, my stage door conversations with Lea have been minimal, albeit pleasant.

A few weeks ago, we got a phone call from my husband’s aforementioned co-worker. Apparently, the topic of her boss’ Spring Awakening-obsessed wife (that's me!) made it into a conversation at a recent family gathering. Lea’s parents subsequently urged our friend to invite us to their daughter’s solo concert debut at Feinstein’s on February 25th. Needless to say, this was an invitation that we eagerly accepted. Sometimes, the theatre gods smile upon you.

This was my first concert at Feinstein’s, an intimate supper club that has hosted some of Broadway’s finest talents over the last decade. As Lea’s family, friends and fans gathered, we were escorted to the “head table” and introduced to her parents. After thanking us for our support of the show, Lea’s mom hinted at the set list and promised that we were about see a bit of Lea’s lighter side as well. Funny, since I was just commenting on the trip in that it would be interesting to see Lea next project be something less dark. Her mother then explained that Jonathan was supposed to sing with Lea but wouldn’t be able to because he had been sick. She then emphasized that he would be sitting with them, cheering her on, but still wasn't able to sing. Clearly, Lea’s parents are very proud and they were obviously thrilled to have a room brimming with familiar and adoring faces, all there to see their baby.

Our table of nine was assembled in the corner by the door. This was a good spot to be because we had a bird’s eye view of the guests strolling in. Michael Mayer was the first notable to arrive as we sipped cocktails and ate overpriced food. Blake Bashoff, Spring’s Lost Boy, appeared and hung out by the door until dinner was over. Lea’s dad came by to check on us and bemoaned how long it was taking his daughter to get ready. He then casually mentioned that Frankie Valli was there before darted off to greet another guest. Our table, largely comprised of ladies in their mid-20s, spent the next 10 minutes pinpointing where they knew Frankie Valli from. Singing “Big Girls Don’t Cry” didn’t do it for them (God, I felt old). Jersey Boys ignited a few more sparks of recognition. Hold on! Wasn't he the Teen Angel in the movie Grease? No, wait, that was Frankie AVALON!

For the longest time, Blake stood there by himself. I was really tempted to abandon my dinner to ask him about Lost and Spring but Monday was his night off and there are boundaries. More importantly, that night was about Lea. Blake was soon joined by Spring alum Robi Hager, cast mates Kate Burton and Glenn Fleshler and, of course, Mr. Groff. Producers Tom Hulce and Ira Pittleman were also there to show their support.

While I did have my cameras ready to snap a photo or two, the pre-show announcement prompted me to scurry them away. So, I suppose, this review will have to rely solely upon memory.

Lea, bedecked in a navy Butter by Nadia goddess gown, breezed in with a decidedly light “Not For The Life Of Me” from Thoroughly Modern Millie. Afterward, she announced how nervous she was to be playing in a room where she’s seen some of her favorite performers, including Linda Eder. Her recollection of her stage door experience following Jekyll and Hyde elicited a laugh from Mr. Mayer, which prompted a shout-out from Lea. She then asked him if she’d be receiving notes on her performance.

She next sang an arrangement of “Once Upon A Dream” and “Someone Like You”, which musical director Deborah Abramson played from autographed sheet music. Lea’s sultry performance of “Easy To Be Hard” had me wondering if she wouldn’t be a contender for this summer’s Shakespeare In The Park production. I was also pleased that she and I share similar stories about Hair’s powerful ballad and being introduced to it at a very young age. Of course, I had to chuckle a little when the successful 21-year-old proclaimed that she was "ready" to do that song now.

Then Lea told that really good story. You know, the one about that time when she and her mom picked up and moved to Toronto to join the cast of Ragtime with some of theatre’s foremost talents. At 12, she was receiving vocal warm-up tips from Audra McDonald. Seems to me that being a part of Tony’s Best Musical of 1998 and saying Audra taught you how to breathe from your diaphragm really makes a suitable alternative to formal training.

Following her performance of “Waiting For Life” from another Ahrens & Flaherty musical, Once On This Island, Lea acknowledged what a tremendous experience being a part of Spring Awakening has been for her. She joked about how she had initially planned to steer away from talk of her current gig but clearly her forthcoming departure is making her a bit sentimental. Despite her jokes about receiving notes from him in capital letters, she sang a touching “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” for Michael Mayer followed by a haunting solo arrangement of “Touch Me”.

Lea next performed an original piece written for her entitled “Another Day”, co-written by Abramson and Amanda Yesnowitz. She followed with a joke about the front row being the “splash zone” and openly acknowledged the phenomenon that some of my online friends have coined Groff Falls. That made many Spring fans chuckle and nod (and I’m guessing a few cast members did, too). In fact, “making out all the time” and getting each other sick was what carried the blame for Jonathan’s inability to perform with her. However, much to the delight of Altarholics in the crowd, Landon Beard joined her onstage as she sang “Say It Somehow” from Light In The Piazza, which segued into the classic West Side Story duet “Somewhere”. Hmmm… Was Lea possibly lobbying for her and Groff to play the leads in the West Side Story revival planned for next year? I wonder…

Joking and speculation aside, it is widely known that Jonathan Groff is Lea’s best friend. The journey that they have shared over the past few years has undoubtedly created a bond that will last for years to come. Fighting tears, Lea explained how important their friendship is to her before she sweetly dedicated Sweeney’s “Not While I’m Around” to her co-star.

Deftly avoiding the schmaltz, Michele navigated her way to “The Wizard And I”, the showstopping ballad from Wicked. She stated that Elphaba was a dream role of hers and joked with Spring costume designer Susan Hilferty, “You designed the costumes for Wicked. You’ve got some pull over there, right?”

Lea closed her show with another one-two punch of Sondheim (“Not A Day Goes By” from Merrily) followed by Idina (“Life Of The Party” from The Wild Party). Lea then excitedly announced that she will finally have the opportunity to perform her dream role, Eponine, in the much-touted Hollywood Bowl concert of Les Miserables in August. So I guess that me she won't be doing Hair then. Wow, that was short-lived! We were then given a taste of what’s to come with a flawless performance of “On My Own”, which was met with a standing ovation.

While there were a few bumpy moments, Lea handled her cabaret debut with the charm, grace and talent that has already afforded her so many great opportunities. At this point in her career, I would liken Lea to a porcelain bell. She is a classic beauty, still quite young and fragile, with a voice that is at moments both pure and grand. Those moments seem to happen when she is singing material with which she is more comfortable and familiar. At 21, even though she is a seasoned performer, I think she is still discovering her vocal style outside of the confines of Spring or Les Miz. I hope that the next few shows she chooses to do will help her to further develop who she is vocally. Personally, I hope she tackles something brassier and bolder, something that will demonstrate and nurture her range. While revivals and Wicked have their undeniable appeal, I hope she attaches herself to another original project.

After the concert, we made our way back to Lea’s parents’ table to thank them for a wonderful evening. Everyone was anxious to see Lea, who her father explained was held up in the green room. As the crowd was moving by, I kept getting knocked into Groff’s backside, which wasn’t an altogether bad thing. At this point, Landon walked over accompanied by a distinguished looking gentleman in a camel colored coat. Lea’s dad turned to us and said, “I’d like you to meet my friend, Frankie!” After shaking Mr. Valli’s extraordinarily soft hands, Lea’s dad thanked Frankie for coming to the concert. He smiled and said, “Your daughter! My son!” and he patted Landon on the back.

Our friend’s family, most of whom hadn't seen Spring Awakening yet, were anxious to get going. When they started harassing Lea’s dad about how long she was taking, we were instructed to go into the green room. In fact, we were standing in the room when many of the photos on were taken! We even took a our own blurry backstage photo:

With cameras flashing in the background, we waited in the corner, with Kate and Blake. Again, I resisted the temptation to talk to them. Damn boundaries…! Plus they were busy talking shop. When the photo op was done, we finally got to say “hi” and snap a pic with the lady of the hour.

All in all, I had a wonderful time. If you ever have the opportunity to see any of the Spring Awakening kids performing outside the familiar territory of their show, I highly recommend it. Casting director Jim Carnahan and Spring's production team have a knack for finding young talent that is to be seriously reckoned with, Lea included. In fact, April 7th will find Lea once again performing at Feinstein’s. If you can afford the price of the ticket and the food, I’d say it is a reckoning worth witnessing.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Why Can't I Be Three Places At Once?

I don't know what it is about Mondays but they sure are busy amongst the performer community (probably because it's a primarily dark night on Broadway). If you are in New York City and are looking for something to do other than watching New Adventures of Old Christine, try one of these events on for size. I would love to be at all three... but will definitely be at one of 'em!
  1. Spring Awakening's Lea Michele in Concert at Feinstein's.
  2. Reading of the The Bird and the Two Ton Weight, a play based on PAN AM Flight 103, making its conversion to film. The reading is at Lubin House and features a few folks from Old Springs Pike.
  3. Matt Hinkley, whose CD releases on March 19th, is playing at Crash Mansion.
So get out and have a grand ol' time. Julia will wait for you... that's what DVRs are for!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

A Day With Sondheim and Oscar

On this day in history the television schedule will see the union of two things that I enjoy to distraction: theatre and film.

Distraction Numero Uno:
Today, at 2:00pm EST, PBS Great Performances will broadcast an encore presentation of John Doyle's revival of Sondheim's Company. I was fortunate enough to have seen Raul Esparza in his Tony-nominated Broadway turn as confirmed bachelor Bobby. His talent was unquestionable and his interpretation of the role was multi-layered and very real. However, I think I need to see the show once more to decide if, as a whole, I like it or not. This was the first time I'd seen it. And I have to say that the performers playing the instruments made it a slightly frenetic experience. When you're already trying to take in the story, the music and the adaptation, the onstage orchestra is a bit overwhelming. I think seeing it once more will tilt the scale one way or the other.

You see, I usually have love/hate reactions to Sondheim's work. I always appreciate their cleverness and musical precision but I can't say that I necessarily "respond" to all of his shows. I'm not a huge fan of the universally popular Sweeney Todd or Into The Woods but I love Assassins and Merrily We Roll Along. In fact, I was inordinately pleased to learn that a rumored revival of Merrily is getting legs in the press. I also find it interesting that the Roundabout is in talks with James Lapine to direct and not John Doyle, whose current revival is booking in the UK through March.

Incidentally, for those of you who are fans of both Raul Esparza and Merrily We Roll Along, check out this clip from the Kennedy Center's Sondheim Celebration. Perhaps Raul's established relationship with the Roundabout and with the show will afford him the opportunity reprise the role of Charley Kringas. Or perhaps he will give Frank Shepard a whirl? I'm certainly anxious to find out...

Distraction Numero Dos:
It's Oscar night and the writers are back! I will take this moment to use what Merriam-Webster OnLine has determined to be the 2007 Word of the Year: W00t!

As I shamefully place my tail between my legs, I have to say I don't know much about this year's nominated films. I have not seen a single Best Picture nominee. In fact, out of all of the nominated films tonight, I've only seen Sweeney Todd (ironically enough), The Savages, Across The Universe and Enchanted. As such, I will not even attempt predictions, as they would be primarily based on media coverage or my opinions of the nominees' body of work.

Even still, I will be plopping my ass down on the couch this evening to soak in the glitz and glamour of Hollywood's most talked about evening. It will begin with Barbara Walters' well-rounded line-up, which will certainly appeal to the celebrity-hungry: Miley Cyrus, Harrison Ford, Vanessa Williams and Ellen Page. Then Jon Stewart will host the first scripted awards show since the writers return. Watching the fruits of their two weeks' labor unfold before a script-starved Hollywood (and America) should be very entertaining. But then, the Oscars rarely disappoint.

So, if you will, join me in my couch potatodom. And may you enjoy your little nibbles of Broadway and Hollywood on this day in television history that any self-respecting theatre/film geek would describe as "way cool!"

Double w00t!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Kerry Butler's Replacement?

You know, you can be having a perfectly crappy week and then "BAM!" something happens that just makes you smile. It is the "theory of convergence" in action. I recently had such a moment that I think will bring a chuckle to film and musical theatre enthusiasts alike.

Not too long ago my three daughters discovered how to use the iMovie feature on our Mac. On occasion, I like to review these clips to see just what exactly they are digitally capturing for all eternity. Since yesterday was a snow day, the four of us were huddled around the computer reviewing their recent entries and I happened upon this clip.

It begins with "Come here, sisters, everybody gather around!" Since my eldest is your typical Type A personality, this is not an uncommon thing to hear. As my tutu-clad youngest chimes in I realized that what I was watching was the opening scene from Xanadu on Broadway. About a month ago, I took my oldest to see it and she has since become a fan. Of course, I had no idea how much of the show she had actually retained until now.

For those of you in need of a quick Xanadu refresher before watching, I'll help you out. In the film's opening scene, a chalk mural of Greek muses comes to life to the disco beat of ELO's "
I'm Alive". In the theatrical adaptation, a Venice artist, Sonny (Cheyenne Jackson), is working on a chalk mural on the stage. Clio/Kira (Kerry Butler) and her sisters come to life from the stage to the same tune. That's about all you need to know... For you diehard Xanadu fans, it will all make sense straight away.

I have to say that both the film and theatre enthusiast in me is very proud of this little effort from our budding filmmaker/performer. I must be proud because I'm willingly sharing our messy media corner with the world... Enjoy!

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Talk O'Texas

Weeks that are largely consumed by the day job are never fun. They basically throw my whole routine out of whack and leave little time for things that I truly enjoy. In this particular instance, the enjoyment that I am sacrificing is the time and inspiration required for a proper blog post.

So, I guess that makes this an improper blog post. Cool.

What's up, you may ask, with the photo of a jar of okra pickles? As a self-proclaimed foodie, I feel it is time that okra is given its fair shake. Okra is not just a slimy thickening agent found in gumbo. Nor is it relegated strictly to its role as a deep-fried side dish at Cracker Barrel. No! The best way to consume your okra is pickled! Trust me! If you occasionally fancy a kosher dill or have been known to polish off a half jar of pepperoncini, then give pickled okra a try! You'll thank me.

But, really, it's not just about the okra... It's about Texas. Or, more appropriately, the talk of it. Besides pickled okra, Texas has something else to talk about and his name is Matt Hinkley. This multi-talented individual, frequently seen performing about town with Joe Iconis, will be releasing his debut solo album on March 19th. So, this is your mission, should you choose to accept it: Listen to his tunes. Become a fan. Go see him perform live at Crash Mansion on February 25th. Go to the record release show at The Bitter End on March 19th and buy the CD. Simple, right? So do it. You'll thank me for that, too.

That's all. I appreciate your time. And I believe it is now time for a pickle.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

All Kinds of Indy Awesome

And I'm not talking about independent film. In fact, it's about as far from it as you can get. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull marks the end of a near 20-year hiatus for Dr. Jones and his iconic film crew.

Welcome back, Indiana! Something tells me it will have been worth the wait!

Friday, February 15, 2008

2008 Will See Another Be-In At The Delacorte

There are some theatrical experiences that stick with you. You know the ones... For me, the musical Hair was, and continues to be, one of those experiences. It is the original "little rock musical that could" - sorry Guilty Ones - penned by James Rado, Gerome Ragni and Galt MacDermot. The thing I love most about Hair, aside from the music, is that it is a socially, religiously and politically charged piece that resonated with young people that were confused and scared. In that respect, it is not unlike Spring Awakening.

In 1967, Joseph Papp offered Hair a 6-week run as the first experimental production at what was then a new Public Theater. Producer Michael Butler moved it to the Cheetah Club in Midtown and after a few rewrites, the show moved to Broadway's Biltmore Theatre for a 4-year run that featured Rado and Ragni, as well as Diane Keaton, Melba Moore and Ben Vereen, among others.

I was born some time during that original run, so the soundtrack was among those that my father had around the house. I remember learning "Easy To Be Hard" for a high school audition once but I think I ended up going with "Oom-Pah-Pah" from Oliver! Just as well, because I didn't really understand the lyrics in Hair until much later in life.

In the 80s, once VCRs became a household staple and I got a job at a video store, I was introduced to the Milos Forman film incarnation, which featured Treat Williams, John Savage and Beverly d'Angelo. It had a storyline that was somewhat different from the stage version. However, it was this version that stuck with me first.

The most notable difference between the film and the play is with Claude's character and his ultimate fate. In the play, Claude is a hippie, a member of the Tribe who gets his draft card, ends up going to Vietnam and getting killed. In the film, however, he is a clean-cut Midwesterner who has been drafted and happens upon the Tribe en route to his deployment to Vietnam. He makes such a fast and furious connection with the Tribe that their charismatic leader, Berger, switches places with him while Claude is on his military base - all so he can see the Tribe once more before heading to Vietnam. While Berger is at the base, Claude's unit is deployed. He ends up going to Vietnam in Claude's place and getting killed. Poignant messages in both versions but vastly different.

Desert Storm began in the middle of my freshman year of college. In addition to a number of friends that were attending ONU with tuition assistance from Uncle Sam, I also had friends that were Kuwaiti. Both were called to active duty by their respective militaries. Being a Theatre/English major, my circle of friends were more the "hell no, we won't go" type. All of this rejuvenated my interest in Hair and it was at that point that I began a more academic approach to the production. My interest in Hair was, in fact, the genesis of a program that gave opportunities to student directors. For me, the program provided me with the opportunity to become the only student to direct a mainstage production in the history of the University. Sadly, I never had the opportunity to direct Hair at ONU but it was this period that really cemented Hair as one of my all-time favorite musicals.

The summer after my junior year, I was afforded the opportunity to be a part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival as the stage manager for an Estonian play authored by the country's Minister of Arts & Culture, Paul-Eerik Rummo. In addition to the phenomenal experience that was "The Fringe", I took advantage of the trip to Europe to see some theatre in London. Imagine my ecstatic surprise to discover that Hair was being revived at the Old Vic. As best I can recall (this was over a decade ago), the production remained true to the book. The production was relatively short-lived and not very well received. No matter. I was thrilled to have had the chance to see my favorite show in its organic format.

Fourteen years later, in 2007, the musical celebrated its 40th year. The nice folks down at the Public decided it might be a good idea to bring the show back to NYC. After a two-week whirlwind of rehearsals, the Tribe once again descended upon Central Park. Of course, flower children of yesteryear and veterans of wars past came out in droves but, with the hip young talent of Jonathan Groff, Will Swenson, Karen Olivo and Kacie Shiek leading the cast, the three-day run also attracted the younger theatregoer. Certainly age does wither many of the moments that shocked audiences in 1967, but the message remains timeless. The anti-war theme definitely resonates with today's young people but so do the struggles the Tribe members face with their parents, school, religion, sexuality, drugs and, quite simply, growing up.

Being a longtime fan of Hair, I dragged my 38-year-old ass out of bed and slept on the pavement for my free ticket to this 40th Anniversary Concert. Some things are worth doing. With ticket in hand, at 7:00pm I waited eagerly for passage through the gates of the Delacorte. After I watched a woman scalp the tickets for $150 a piece, my friend met up with me and we queued up in the long line in front of the theatre. Whilst standing in that line another gentleman, donning a straw conical hat, attempted to sell his ticket at face value to a woman who claimed to be a cop. If Joe Papp wasn't already rolling over in his grave at the $100 "donation" tickets, he was undoubtedly awakened by the sound of the free tickets going for a buck and half.

After a few minutes, we realized that we were in the "cancellation" line, an error we righted straight away. Amidst the sea of ticketholders milling about was a veritable who's-who of theatre. Several Spring Awakening folk were there to show their support for castmate Jonathan Groff. As we made our way to our seats, we spotted James Rado bouncing about the crowd, seeming almost bubbly over this anniversary concert that was generating all this fuss.

It was with good reason that people were effusive. This passionate and energetic cast, backed by composer Galt MacDermot himself, ably conjured up those familiar ghosts of the 60s. The show, which has been widely criticized for its less-than-stellar book, arguably finds its strength in the music. With such a tight schedule, director Diane Paulus undoubtedly had to sacrifice a lot of the allotted rehearsal time to music. This sacrifice was not in vain as the assembly of powerhouse voices did the score serious justice.

Will Swenson was an infectious Berger, bringing the right amount of charisma and timing to the role. Tony-nominee Jonathan Groff, as Vietnam draftee Claude, deftly brought his acting and singing chops to one of Hair's meatier roles. The fiercely talented Karen Olivo shone as Shiela, the much sought after NYU student. And, as the pregnant Jeannie, Kacie Sheik blended vocal sophistication with endearing innocence. Truly, the talent amassed on that stage, in all its vim and vigor, represented what a bright future is in store for Broadway.

As is common with productions of Hair, there were edits made to both the score and the script. "Dead End", "Sheila Johnson", "Hippie Life" and "The Bed" were cut from the 2007 production. All of those songs, save "The Bed", were included in the Actor's Fund Concert but I've not seen or heard "The Bed" performed since I saw the production at the Old Vic. I didn't really miss it, but I like the "Sheila Johnson" lead-in to "I Believe In Love" because you get a better sense of who she is and how she relates to the Tribe.

While I'm sure there were many more than just these, there were only a few noticeable cuts to the book. I felt that the relationship triangle between Berger, Sheila and Claude was mistakenly downplayed. Sheila sleeping with Claude before he goes to Vietnam can be really poignant if played right. Eliminating that dimension is not a directorial choice I would have made. Another area that seemed to be glossed over was when Claude cut his hair. This is a very symbolic action in the play and it didn't carry the impact it should have. I owe that partially to the fact that Groff couldn't get a proper miliary haircut because of his Spring Awakening commitment. Hopefully, that will be remedied in future productions. A final scripted moment I would have liked to have seen is at the end of play. Following the reveal of Claude's corpse during "The Flesh Failures", the Tribe dissipates while singing "Let The Sunshine In." Throughout the song, Berger is meant to have a pair of drumsticks that he beats frenetically. By the time the final chord of the song is reached, Berger is standing at the head of Claude's grave and creates a cross symbol with his drumsticks. The lights go to black and the cross glows eerily in the darkness. A scripted moment that I've never seen live and someday would like to.

Back in September, when there was a lot more press about this event, I read a blurb that there was talk of moving this production to Broadway. As I eluded to in the previous paragraph, while it is not Broadway bound, I am delighted to hear that a fully-realized production of Hair will be included in the 2008 Shakespeare In The Park series. Thus far, Will Swenson and Jonathan Groff have signed to reprise their roles. Karen Olivo is currently starring in In The Heights, which opens on March 9th. I find it hard to believe that she will take a hiatus during Tony season, since In The Heights is a likely contender for some top awards. Perhaps the insanely talented Kacie Sheik will step into the role of Sheila, a role that I believe she is even more suited for than Jeannie.

Diane Paulus will helm the 2008 iteration for the Public. I'm anxious to see what a budget and full rehearsal schedule will bring to the production. The director in me would love to see a multi-media aspect explored but I've yet to get a call from the Public for my input. But that's okay. I'll gladly settle for another night on the line and the opportunity to experience this wonderful production once again - in all its hippie glory!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

I Got Knocked Up for Valentine's Day

Seriously. And I wanted it.

Here's to a lovely Valentine's Day. Or as a friend likes to call it, Singles Awareness Day (SAD Day, for the lover of acronyms).

Regardless of your relationship status, as long as your day had chocolates, good company and cocktails, you've reaped the true rewards of this particular holiday.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

As I Wish!

This morning, whilst perusing the Sunday paper, my husband was struck by the logo in the Best Buy flyer for the 20th Anniversary Edition DVD of The Princess Bride:

First, off, isn't that cool!?! I know it was released a couple of months ago but this is the first I'm seeing it. We've owned this on DVD for a few years and, according to a pretty amusing review I read, this is the fourth release. It's not surprising that this would have passed way under my radar. I love that the cover reads both upside down and right side up but I think the title logo is especially amazing.

** I'll wait while you attempt to turn your laptop upside down**

What has been on my radar, however, is the once-planned musical adaptation of the film. Prolific screenwriter William Goldman (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, All The President's Men) had teamed up with Tony Award-winning composer Adam Guettel (The Light in the Piazza, Floyd Collins). The talented team began work on the highly anticipated stage version of the beloved fairy tale and a well-received workshop of a few of the songs was held at Lincoln Center. Shortly thereafter, the two parted ways. It has been reported that Goldman wanted 75% of the authors' share of the profits, despite the fact that Guettel was contributing both music and lyrics.

Following the separation, Guettel returned to the comfortable arms of his Piazza collaborators, Craig Lucas and Bartlett Sher, to provide the music for Lucas' 20007 adaptation of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya. Hopefully, he will soon begin work on a new project that will guide him back to a deserved home on Broadway.

I know that many purists have had their fill of movies being transformed into musicals but the adaptation of this witty and heartwarming film has such tremendous artistic and economic potential. Hopefully, Mr. Goldman will take a break from writing the screenplay for Shazam! and pursue another composer. I would love to see what Joe Iconis would do with this classic film. Of course, I suspect that he wouldn't settle for 25% ownership, either.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Favorite (And Not So Favorite) Things

It has been a rough February on Broadway, as pointed out by my blog buddy Chris. The slowdown on ticket sales often comes with casualties, including Rent, The Fantasticks and The Color Purple. In an effort to inject attendance, The Broadway League sponsors Kids Night on Broadway, where select shows and restaurants offer buy one, get one with a paying adult.

As a result, I get to do one of my favorite things. Go to the theatre with my daughter. Tonight's dalliance? Hairspray, which I haven't seen yet. I've seen the original film and the movie musical but never "live on stage" (as my kids say). A full review of the evening and a word or two about the show is forthcoming.

And then tomorrow I get to do a not so favorite thing... Find out if I broke or tore something in my ankle when I fell down the stairs a few days ago. *sigh*

It's always something, ain't it?

A Lethal Cocktail

Now we know. May he rest in peace. And may his family, Michelle Williams and his daughter, Matilda, one day find it.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

All Memes Theatrical

Start a good meme and I am all over it like white on rice. It requires a different kind of thinking: the "let's travel down memory lane" kind of thinking instead of the more labor-intensive "let's write a blog post from scratch" type. I elaborated a little to make a little room for the non-musical and I added a couple.

I Wish I Had Been There

If you haven't already seen this footage on YouTube, then I've done you an incredible service by posting this video for you. It is amazing what a little creativity and manpower can accomplish.

For further information about the Improv Everywhere and their "missions", click

Friday, February 01, 2008

Oh, Sweet Niblets!

As I've mentioned in the past, I am a habitual list keeper and there are usually a few running at the same time. Among those lists is my blog topic list. Basically, when I spot things that I want to comment on or post about, I add them to the list. Sometimes the topics are just snippets of information that don't warrant a full post and other times they are items that I want to devote more attention to.

In an effort to shorten the list, I'm glomming a bunch of sweet musical theatre niblets into one post:

WOW! Feeling gloriously purged and ready to start anew, I am now sufficiently prepared to tackle my long overdue review of bare: the musical. Maybe that's what I'll do during the Superbowl, when the commercials aren't on.