Tootsie the musical

IMG_8354.JPG

80s nostalgia has been peaking its head lately. Not too long ago we had American Psycho on Broadway, Ready Player One in books and theaters and even some video games are reverting back to 80s pixelated looks. Tootsie, a hit movie in the 80’s for Dustin Hoffman has just began previews on Broadway in a musical form.  This is a reimagined Tootsie for the “Me Too” age and instead of taking place in an office like the movie, it is taking place on Broadway fulfilling the dreams for the out of work actor Michael Dorsey (aka Dorothy Michaels).  

This is a fun and light-hearted musical comedy that doesn’t take itself too seriously.  It still has the standard tropes of the sleazy Director, a good looking but less than bright beefcake, lazy writer/best friend and hanger on ex-girlfriend.  Tootsie all in all is fun escapism and treat for all audiences. 

Hadestown

IMG_8247.JPG

The Road to Hell

So I just saw a preview of the Hadestown, which recently began performances on Broadway. What is Hadestown? It is a musical based on the Greek tragedy of Orpheus & Eurydice and the story of Hades & Persephone but set in Great Depression inspired time. The music is a combination of New Orleans jazz, folk and Americana which to me gives a real American feel.

Performance-wise there are some heavyweights that really make the show a winner. from the moment he comes out and shows off his waistcoat the ageless André De Shields owns the stage. As Hermes he serves as an Emcee/Narrator that moves the story along as easily as his lithe frame glides across the stage. Singer-songwriter Reeve Carney channels the late Jeff Buckley in his Orpheus. Eva Noblezada is as strong a presence vocally as when I last saw her as the title role in Miss Saigon. Amber Gray as Persephone is firecracker and has some great moments where she really gets the audience into it. And then there is Hades, played by Patrick Page (for all you nerds, yes he was also Green Goblin to Mr. Carney’s Spiderman in Turn Off the Dark). Now there has to be some vocal effects on him yes, but still, Mr. Page has that presence and plays the character so well that he could talk you into working in the factory for him.

The supporting cast consisting of the Fates and Chorus rounded out the strong cast. In addition to the actors there are the musicians. I have come to the decision that I prefer having the band on stage with the actors like they are in Hadestown. This allows interaction between the actors and musicians and the musicians become more prominent to the audience. It’s like they are part of the cast. And what a band it was! The Set Design was also particularly well presented and even utilized during some numbers with lamps virtually doing choreography.

Needless to say i really enjoyed this show and think it can enjoyed by a wide range of people. If someone is looking for a Broadway musical that is more on the contemporary side but with classical elements, striking set design and winning performances they should consider going to Hadestown…

IMG_8246.JPG
 

Hamilton...it's all that and more

The current Mecca for Theatre Zealots

The current Mecca for Theatre Zealots

Maybe you have heard of this little show called Hamilton.  It started at The Public Theatre, sold out almost every show and was basically called up to the big leagues (Broadway) and had now garnered a record setting 16 Tony nominations.  So is this show as good as the hype?  Is it worth thousands of dollars for one ticket in the Orchestra?  If you are asking me, I say a resounding YES.

In all honesty I come from a Musical Theatre background graduating with a BA in Theatre.  Because of my profession I have had the luxury of seeing many shows on Broadway and some off-Broadway. I do remember seeing Mr. Miranda's "In The Heights" and while not loving it, thinking it was quite good and fresh in comparison to a lot of the other new shows at the time.  But, Hamilton, nothing rivals it and I feel sorry for any new show that is going to open in the near future.  The bar has been set extremely high.

If I could have learned history this way all the time I would have paid a lot more attention.  The music and acting is full of passion.  The performances show deft skills by the actors in realm of rap music.  I think think the fact that this style of music is so out of left field typically for a subject matter like this is part of it's allure.  

Before I was able to see it I listened to the soundtrack and could tell right away this was a game changer.  Do whatever you can to see the show, you will not be disappointed. 

Wow...what a show!

Wow...what a show!

 

Broadway's Best Bet

I have just witnessed greatness on Broadway and it is rotten.  "Something Rotten" to be exact; the new musical from people responsible for The Book of Mormon, Avenue Q and Aladdin.  Currently in previews at the St. James Theater, this is a show for people that love musicals, people that hate musicals, musical nerds  and for people with no opinion about anything.  

It is the story of two brothers in the 1590's and their struggle to make a big entertainment hit with Shakespeare as their main rival for success.  I am not going to give anymore away as  this is something that must be witnessed in person to fully enjoy.  I will only say that the show does a brilliant job of not taking itself or the Broadway industry as a whole too seriously, which is why I think it will be such a success. 

Everything in the show is top-notch.  From the costumes, to the sets, to clever songs  and references, and the performances.  The cast is led by Brian D'Arcy James (Shrek, Macbeth) and John Cariani (Fiddler on the Roof) as the two brothers, Nick & Nigel Bottom (ergo the inside jokes start).  There is also Christian Borle (Peter and the Starcatcher, Spamalot) who does a fantastically campy turn as The Bard himself,  Shakespeare, the current rock star of the time.   The supporting cast are just as strong as the leads and equally hilarious in their role, notably Brad Oscar as Nostradamus and Brooks Ashmanskas as Brother Jeremiah.

This show is an absolute breath of fresh air and will be the surprise hit of the season.  If I have to nag, I think the first act is stronger than the second in that it seems better paced and more fluid, but it is in previews so there may yet be changes.  I am looking forward to seeing it again once it has opened and I can't wait to share my experience with my guests and friends.

SOMETHING ROTTEN