musicals

If /Then the musical on Broadway

Remember that Gwyneth Paltrow movie Sliding Doors about seeing different outcomes from taking a different path in life?  That is what the new Broadway show If / Then is like, only a musical version.  This story follows two paths of Elizabeth played by Idina Menzel, a young successful girl living in present day New York City.  We see the different outcomes of different choices made and it is up to us as an audience to decide which is the better outcome.  Songs push each parallel story along and involve the same characters, but in different roles and with different emotional connections.  

If / Then puts reunites Menzel and Anthony Rapp who starred together in the original Broadway cast of Rent.  Both are strong and perfect for the contemporary score by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey.  Mr. Kitt and Mr. Yorkey collaborated on the award winning musical Next To Normal as well and are looking for another Broadway hit.  The songs were  infections and pop infused with some really showcasing Ms. Menzel's talents.  LaChanze starring as Kate is also fantastic  with a phenomenal voice and a character she feels right at home playing.

The set also reflects the two sides motif through the use of a large mirror to go along with stark yet effective stage elements.  I was a little divided through the first act as to whether or not I really liked this show, but the second act sold me.  It felt more focused and emotional to me.  This will be a great show for a younger audience that is looking for something a little different and contemporary on Broadway.  It will also make you think, for better or worse, what if...

 

IF / THEN the musical

 

Do you hear the people sing? Les Miserables back on Broadway

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Following a popularity resurgence due to a disappointment of a movie, Les Miserables is back on the Great White Way and it is back with a vengeance.  Let's be honest here; even though they put on a happy and supportive face, more qualified Broadway performers were replaced with marquee names for Tom Hooper's movie adaption of the world famous musical based on Victor Hugo's classic novel.  Those marquee names on the whole performed bravely but were nowhere near the quality that you will find in the current production on Broadway.  

Led by the fantastic Ramin Karimloo, this Les Miserables is powerful and poignant to the end.  Mr. Karimloo who has had stints as The Phantom of the Opera and and in Sunset Boulevard displays incredible vocals and range as Jean Valjean, the convict that turns his life around with the help of a forgiving priest.  Even at a whisper his voice resounds throughout the theater and his performance of "Bring Him Home" brings the house down.  Will Swenson as the obsessed inspector Javert displays grit and determination through his vocals on a near maniacal chase of Jean Valjean.  Cassie Levy as Fantine, Nikki M. James as Eponine, Samantha Hill as Cosette, and the rest of the cast give strong and moving performances through the whole show.

The set design by Matt Kinley and the lighting by Paul Constable transport us to the dark and gritty France on on the verge of and in the middle of a revolution.  In fact, I really cannot say anything negative about this production except for the length of it.  At 3 hours, it is a long show, but to be fair I knew that going in.  To this production's credit, I did not mind it too much and I believe this will be playing for a long time.

 

LES MISERABLES ON BROADWAY