newmoonstar: (phantom of the opera)
Popping back from my self-imposed exile for a moment to babble about the Tonys! Can we just have Hugh Jackman host every year? Seriously, who doesn't love this man? (But what was up with all that hopping? Am I missing some reference, because all that made exactly zero sense to me.)

I have to admit I haven't heard any of the new cast albums from this season's shows yet, but A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder and The Bridges of Madison County are the only ones I'm remotely interested in. But at least this year's crop was more 'ho-hum' than truly depressing, like some recent years I can recall! Opinionated, sarcastic theatre geek comments behind the cut! )

Oy, I think maybe I was complaining throughout most of this post, but eh, I'm a musical theatre fan, so I have opinions! All musical theatre fans have opinions. That's part of the fun! We're critical because we care. We debate and disagree, but we always stick by it and love it, no matter what. So I'm looking forward to next year with trepidation bordering on terror, but always with the sliver of hope underneath. The next great show could be in a workshop or a regional theatre right now, just waiting for it's Broadway opening...*fingers crossed* ;D
newmoonstar: (icon by marble_feet)
So my birthday was yesterday, and I celebrated by going to see a musical! The local children's theatre company was putting on Anne of Green Gables, so I was curious, given that I loved the book as much as every other kid, but then I found out that Gretchen Cryer and Nancy Ford had written it, and I knew I had to go.

They wrote a great underrated little off-Broadway musical in the 60's, Now Is the Time For All Good Men, which I was really impressed with upon hearing the cast album, and after which I found out that it was also them who had written the songs for The American Girls Review. They're probably best known among musical theatre afficianados for I'm Getting My Act Together and Taking It On the Road (which was just revived at City Center Encores this year!) and for being one of the few female composer/writer duos out there.

I figured Anne was in good hands with these ladies, and I was right. It's not an amazing score, but definitely a good one, and a good solid adaptation that understood the spirit of the story perfectly. A gentle, sweet tone to the score, with the book scenes either very funny, or very heartfelt. I honestly had to fight really hard not to cry in many places, since Anne of Green Gables is one of those iconic childhood stories that will always strike right at your heart if it's done well.

I was really impressed with the production itself as well, the flowers and trees all around, lovely lighting and clever effects like showers of leaves and snow to show the changing of seasons, really helped create the mood of connection to the earth that's such an important part of L.M. Montgomery's novels. The little lanterns hung from the trees and the swing used in various musical numbers for Anne or Diana or Gilbert to swing on were particularly nice touches. The actors playing the children were all probably almost out of high school, but it didn't matter, I think the whole cast was quite good and brought it to life very well.

Overall, it was just what you'd want it to be, and I'm very glad I went. And while I can't imagine a better production, I really do hope the show gets produced in as many places as possible, since it would be a wonderful way to get kids interested in musical theatre, and a perfect piece of happy nostalgia for those of us who grew up loving the book. Highly recommended! :)


May. 18th, 2013 12:53 am
newmoonstar: (phantom of the opera)
Saw Oklahoma! at Lyric Opera in Chicago, it was unbelieveably amazing!!!! Everything so beautifully done, I can't rave enough! I'm so glad I splurged on a front row seat, because seeing the actors up close makes it so much more real and personal, and it's so thrilling to feel the vibration of the dancers' feet when they hit the stage and the orchestra in the pit when the music crescendos. Seeing all the little detail of the set is cool too; they built a little house, kind of like a shadow box, with a little space inside where the actors could stand and you could see Laurey move around while Aunt Eller and Curly talked outside, or how they used little hanging lights in front of the backdrop for stars in the sky during the box social, all sorts of cool stuff like that. And you really feel like you're part of the party during "The Farmer and the Cowman"! (Although I discovered that even in the front row, you are still likely to sit next to people who talk during the show. Thankfully, they didn't come back for the second act!)

The very best part though, was just hearing awesome singers sing awesome songs. John Cudia and Ashley Brown I was already a fan of, and just as I suspected, they were perfect for Curly and Laurey. "Surrey With the Fringe on Top" and "People Will Say We're In Love" were heavenly moments of pure bliss in their capable hands. Gorgeous voices, and both so charming and sweet. And funny. It was lovely to see John's comedic side, since in Phantom it's pretty much emo all the time (not that I don't love it!) but it was great to see how hilarious he could be, especially during "Pore Jud is Daid". We got the understudy for Jud, Paul LaRosa, but he was very good, great voice, maybe a little too romantically sung for Jud, but he fit the part well otherwise. Paula Scrofano was just perfect as Aunt Eller, crusty and sassy and wise and warm, you couldn't ask for more. Tari Kelly as Ado Annie and Curtis Holbrook as Will Parker were good and solid, as was Usman Ally as Ali Hakim. The ensemble were great, in particular the ladies in their colorful calicoes doing their pretty dance during "Many A New Day" were a vision of loveliness. The orchestra was great, neither too loud or reserved, which can sometimes be a problem when orchestras more used to classical stuff venture to showtunes, but they got it just right.

My one nitpick is that the first act ended with the Dream Ballet and left out the little bit where Laurey wakes up and it's Jud saying 'we better get ready for the party', because it's in the original script that way, and I think it's stronger dramatically to end the first act back in reality, and see the effect the dream has had on Laurey in her reaction to Jud. But from a practical standpoint, I can understand why they cut it out, since it is a lot of work to change the set back for just one line. The sets were beautiful, I must mention. The painted backdrops were just dreamy and enchanted looking, and the great big structures of the barns and houses that the characters could actually sit on the roofs of, or hang out of the windows of, were really cool.

The songs, though, first and foremost, are Oklahoma!'s crowning glory; the title song was possibly the most exhilarating thing I've seen/heard on a live stage ever. But when the curtain first went up, and then Curly came out on stage singing "Oh What A Beautiful Mornin'", I damn near cried. So joyous, so beautiful. And when Curly looks out over 'the bright golden haze on the meadow', the actor on stage is looking out over the audience, and for just about two seconds, he looked straight at ME!!! For a tiny little moment, the glorious voice of John Cudia sang one of the most beautiful songs ever written TO ME. It literally was a moment out of my dreams (reference intended!) and in that moment, I was the happiest little fangirl in world. I will remember that FOREVER. The whole show was magical and wonderful, just as good as I imagined, but the experience of seeing it live was even better than I could have ever imagined.

I sure am interested in seeing Lyric's The Sound of Music next year, although I doubt anything could ever top the magic of this show.
newmoonstar: (phantom of the opera)
I have tickets for Oklahoma! at the Lyric Opera in Chicago in May!!! WOOHOO!!! I'm super, super excited; it looks like a pretty awesome production, they're using the original orchestrations and Agnes deMille choreography, and real ballet dancers for the Dream Ballet, and the cast is amazing: Ashley Brown is playing Laurey, and Curly is played by JOHN CUDIA. *SQUEE!!!* One of my Favorite Phantoms Ever, mind you. His voice is so beautiful, I think he sings the best 'Music of the Night' I've ever heard. (Well, it's a toss up between him and Howard McGillin, sometimes you feel like a tenor, sometimes you feel like a baritone... how can you choose between perfect and perfect?) So I'm just keeling over at the prospect of actually hearing him live, especially since Oklahoma! is one of the more gorgeous scores in existence. C'mon, that voice singing 'Oh What A Beautiful Mornin'?' or 'People Will Say We're in Love"? Yes, please! (And that's him in my icon, by the by, with the equally awesome Jennifer Hope Wills. That photo always makes me giggle!)

(In the back of my mind I'm horribly and terribly afraid that something will come up and prevent me from going though, since last time I had tickets for something out-of-town, my car broke down beforehand, and I had to miss it. I'm trying not to worry until it happens though, nor to worry about the prospect of staying at a hotel in one of the worst cities for bedbugs in the country [insert screams of terror here], because if a horrible disaster happens, there'll be plenty of time to tear my hair out afterward. For now, I'll try to focus on the awesomeness. And to figure out what to wear, since Lyric Opera = ritzy. I think the pearls need to get busted out for this one. Heehee!)

In TV viewing news, I can't believe American Experience is finally doing The Abolitionists! It's long, long overdue, if you ask me. Such an important chapter in American history that shouldn't be overlooked. And Civil War reenactors can only do so much! I'm not even technically 'the abolitionist' of my group, but as 'the women's right's reformer' much of what I talk about is inextricably bound up with abolitionism, because the two issues were very closely linked before the Civil War. The stories of people in both struggles have interested me since I was a child, and as someone who cares about these issues not just in the past, but as they relate to the progress toward equality in the world even today, I think it's so important that we move toward perceiving the fight for civil rights for women and minorities not as just 'women's history' or 'black history' but as mainstream AMERICAN history, pure and simple. While I do wish this documentary were a little bit more inclusive, since the casual viewer will probably get the impression that William Lloyd Garrison and Frederick Douglass were the only abolitionsts out there from this show, nonetheless, the very fact that it's on PBS at all will at least get people interested to hopefully learn more. (And they'll be shocked to learn that Garrison wasn't the zen-like soft-spoken gentle soul he's portrayed as here. Seriously, who cast this thing?? Anyone who's read any of Garrison's writing would know he wasn't like that! But at least he gets more airtime than Sarah and Angelina Grimke. It's like "we better stuff some Token!Women in there! But downplay them, 'cuz you know, they were into that pesky feminism!") We've still got a long way to go, but if people in the 19th century could hang in there and fight and win in the face of such unbelievable opposition, so can we. :)
newmoonstar: (Default)
The latest cast recording I've discovered and fallen in love with is Death Takes A Holiday. A magical, touching, romantic show, full of both joy and melancholy in turn, with a beautiful score by the wonderful Maury Yeston. And the cast is just an embarrasment of riches: Rebecca Luker, Michael Siberry, Jill Paice, Max von Essen, Don Stephenson, Matt Cavanaugh... beautiful voices all! And as Death himself, Kevin Earley, who I'd never heard of before, but wow! What a voice! Apparently he was the understudy who had to go on when the original lead got laryngitis (you wouldn't believe things like that actually happen in real life, but here it is!) and all I can say is, I don't think he'll ever be an understudy again! If he doesn't become a huge Broadway star after this, there's no justice in the world. My favorite songs on this brilliant recording full of lovely music are his; "Alive!" captures all the breathless exhuberance of Death, off work for a day at last, discovering the simple joys of being human. (I have to say that this track makes me get up and dance around like an idiot whenever I hear it! It's so great!) And "I Thought That I Could Live" is one of the best things I've heard on a cast album probably ever, a desperate, impassioned monologue as Death realizes what it is to be human and love, and faces the prospect of losing it. The music is stunning and Earley's performance is breathtaking.

My other favorites are "Finally To Know", a lovely, gentle trio for the young ladies of the house as they make up their minds to pursue true love; "Shimmy Like They Do In Paree", a fun, funny number as one of the ladies attempts to teach the disguised Death the latest 1920's dance craze; and "Alone Here With You", a haunting duet for Death (in the guise of Prince Sirki) and the beautiful young Grazia as they fall in love.

Also of note are "Losing Roberto" and "Roberto's Eyes", both about the death of Grazia's brother during the war, wrenchingly sung by Rebecca Luker and Matt Cavanaugh respectively. They're both amazing songs, but I find they're not ones I like to hear too frequently because they're so raw & heartbreaking. But they are absolutely neccessary to the show to keep it from being too frothy; this IS Death we're falling in love with. He's not evil, but he's not a tame sparkly teen vampire. This show deals with real emotions and intelligently explores universal themes in addition to being melodious, romantic, and just plain beautiful. A real treat from start to finish, I highly recommend it! :)
newmoonstar: (icon by marble_feet)
Well, I don't know how it took me so long to discover but I finally did, and found several juicy tidbits of super exciting news: The Roundabout Theatre Company is putting on a revival of one of my all time favorite musicals, The Mystery of Edwin Drood!!! I've been wondering when the heck somebody would bring this show back, it's utterly brilliant and deserves to be known by all theater-loving folk everywhere. I'm reserving judgement about the casting until I actually hear a cast recording, since the original Broadway cast was so perfect and amazing that the idea of any other people in these roles will probably always feel like a little bit of a let down to me! I'm really wary of the costumes being designed by William Ivey Long though, since I've never seen a show he designed without thinking to myself "wow, these costumes totally missed the mark!" And how the show is designed is especially important for something like Drood, but again, the original production was so awesome that anything else is going to feel weird to me, for a while at least. I'll always love the original production best, but I think this is one of those shows that's so good in and of itself, that if you get decent performers, the material itself is enough make any production worthwhile. And hey, good or bad, at least it's putting the show out there and gets people interested in it! (Maybe even enough to re-issue the original cast recording again, PLEASE GOD!!!) But anyhow, DROOD DROOD DROOOOOD! OMG HOORAY!

In more OMG!Musicals news, there is, apparently, in the works after all this long time (and yes, my inner 12 year old is having a heart attack!) a stage version of (drum roll please!)... Anastasia! ANASTASIA. Lynn Ahrens. Stephen Flaherty. Anastasia. The glorious animated film I spent my teen years obsessively fangirling over to the point that I still can't hear about the Romanovs without getting ridiculously emotional. Holy heck. Being as hugely emotionally attached to this movie and this story and this score as I am, I'm not going to even allow myself to THINK about this show until it actually happens; there's only a reading of it going on right now, and there's a long way from that to a Broadway opening. Any number of changes could occur, and hopefully will, since reports of Terrence McNally as bookwriter and new characters being added and old ones deleted or changed kind of makes me queasy. I'm not so blinded by love as to think it won't need some tweaks to turn this film into a good stage musical (even in the movie I thought that Rasputin as the villian really needed to go. The drama is strong enough without a generic grey-skinned Disney-style baddie stuck in there) but I do think the central characters and their relationships are what make the film so strong, and if you change them too much or take them away, you lose the emotional core of the story. But anyway, like I said, I'm NOT going to think about it until it happens! Really not. Really. (But OMG who is going to play Dimitri?!?) SHUT UP BRAIN! You are NOT thinking about it!!! :P

So yeah, I'm super curious/frightened/excited by all this news, but trying to adopt a more zen attitude about it. No use getting all worked up till you actually have a cast album in your hands. (I think that's going to be my new motto from now on; I should have that on a bumper sticker!)
newmoonstar: (icon by marble_feet)
Watched a DVD of the 1980 New York Shakespeare Festival production of The Pirates of Penzance, and it was totally great! The rather crappy picture quality didn't matter at all, the production was so fun and energetic that that's all you noticed, and quite honestly it's a miracle to have it at all! It was much better than the movie version of the same production, which I saw some of years back but didn't make it through because it bored me so much. What a difference an audience makes! The cast was having splendid fun hamming it up for them, and the audience was having fun watching them, and I was having fun watching it all too! The cast was wonderful: Patricia Routledge is awesome and I wish she'd been in more musicals; Linda Ronstadt can genuinely sing operetta, she's no pop star just faking it; and even Kevin Kline's pomposity works to advantage for the Pirate King, and he actually comes off as rather charming. The whole production was delightful; even though the sets and scenery were rather minimal, the little pirate ship that they occasionally rode around in was so cute, and since it was filmed on an outdoor stage, the summer breeze was always blowing through, and added a pleasant ambiance of realism to the seaside scenes when it ruffled the actors' hair and fluttered the ladies' dresses. All in all it was a lovely, funny, silly, sweet romp from beginning to end. (I just wish more stage productions would get filmed; I would consider it a huge shame to have missed this simply because I hadn't been born yet when it was originally staged!)

Okay, on to less cute territory: Jekyll & Hyde. I think maybe Love Never Dies has given me a taste for train-wreck musicals, because I never thought it would be any good, and I was pretty much right. But it's the only thing by Frank Wildhorn my library actually has, and since one hears tell of his work often (usually rather disparagingly) I was curious to judge for myself. The only thing of his I've heard is the uber-cheesy ballad "This Is the Moment" which is from this show, so I was prepared for the worst, but I'd heard the 1994 studio cast album is the best version, so perhaps a glimmer of hope? Not really. Jekyll & Hyde is just one of those stories that genuinely shouldn't be a musical. But even so, there must be a way to do it better than this.

Bad doesn't even begin to describe Jekyll & Hyde )

But it had a redeeming feature in the fine cast, at least )

I think I now need to go listen to The Music Man or She Loves Me or something, just so I can reassure myself that genuinely excellent musicals do still exist somewhere out there. (Or at least to fortify me through the next train-wreck musical I venture to listen to! Heehee!) ;D
newmoonstar: (belle (big_blue_bin))
Ugh. Heat wave still making life miserable. Didn't even go to see any 4th of July fireworks this year because it's just too hot to be worth it. Over 100 degrees today! When you only have air conditioning in one room in your house, that's not good!!

Trying to keep my spirits up while I wilt has been only somewhat succesful; I bought a Singing Rapunzel doll, since I've had my eye on one for a while, and it was on sale, but I kind of regret it now, since the Disney Store website had free shipping today, and had I known that, I probably would have gotten a couple of the new classic dolls instead. Doll-related babbling. )

Also, I think I'm into Newsies again. I always liked it (is there anyone my age who grew up on Disney movies who didn't??) and I always thought it should have been a stage musical in the first place, and they finally did it this year, so I've been curious to hear the cast recording, (and totally squeeing over it at the Tonys; I was so happy for Alan Menken when it won Best Score I almost cried!) but it was on TV the other day, and I watched it again for the first time in years, and now I REALLY want to hear it! I'd forgotten how good it was (I don't know what anyone's talking about when they say the movie didn't work, it was great!) and also, given the political climate these days, there's no way a girl like me isn't going to fall hard for a pro-union musical! The only thing I'm worried about is how much they changed it from the movie, because heaven knows Disney isn't good about adapting their movies for the stage. But for Newsies I don't have anywhere near the same sentimental attachment I have for The Little Mermaid or Beauty and the Beast, and since it wasn't really perfect as a film like they were, I don't think it'll bother me that much even if they do. At the very least, you can't go wrong with any cast recording with "Seize the Day" on it! Seriously, I think I might need to go back to the Disney Store for that T-shirt...heehee! ;D
newmoonstar: (icon by marble_feet)
I guess it's lucky my car chose to break down in the middle of a heat wave, since it's too hot to leave the house anyway! So in the air-conditioning I stay, and it's given me a chance to listen to a lot of music and movies over the past week.

My musical theater kick still being in full force, I watched a DVD of the London production of the 2000 Kiss Me, Kate revival. Ugh, big mistake! SOOO bad! So boring I could barely keep awake, and really poorly cast. Trust me, you'll be glad you missed this! )

Also listened to the cast recording of Triumph of Love, which was really good. I knew the story from a movie version of the play that came out a few years ago, which I thought was a really charming little gem, but I have to say that this musical version that was made a few years prior to that movie, is actually even better. An 18th century French play about the adventures of a cross-dressing princess and the tangled web of broken hearts her deception causes may not seem like a sure-thing for a fun musical, but it really is! A wonderful show, with a fine score, that will engage your head and your heart! )

(And now I think I'm going to keel over, because I've eaten nothing but pizza and snickerdoodles for the past two days, and while it was fun at the time, I feel rather ill now! Must go back to eating healthy food today!!)
newmoonstar: (Love Never Dies)
Here we go, the plot of Love Never Dies. I would call it an analysis, but at this point it's more a catalogue of it's crimes! Read it and weep! Contains spoilers, obviously! )

I could probably write a whole book on what's wrong with this plot, and another book on how to try and fix it (futile as that would surely be!) but somehow, despite everything, I'm probably as attracted as I am horrified by this show. It doesn't work storywise, but the score is so richly emotional and beautiful, even the recitative is melodious and never just filler. This work in no way lives up the magical, fantastic spirit of the original (I don't want these characters taken down off their pedastals, thank you, I like them there!) but in tiny moments, in beautiful songs, you do occasionally catch little glimpses of the characters you love, and getting to go there again, however imperfectly, is pretty cool. Do I wish it was better? Yes. Do I wish it had never been written? Actually, no. Yes, I would rather have this score in a good show, but at the end of the day, I'd rather have it here than not at all. It may be ugly, but the music is beautiful, and you can't help but love that about it, which in a way is strangely fitting for a show about the Phantom, because you could say the same for him.
newmoonstar: (Love Never Dies)
Okay, despite many weeks of sewing projects coming and going, my Phantom kick has turned into a full-fledged musical theatre binge, and the Broadway Odyssey has resumed full force! So for now the sewing updates will have to wait while I review some cast recordings! For today, the second part of my analysis of Love Never Dies!

The more problematic songs and why I love/hate them. )

Well, that's it for the songs, but as for the plot itself... to be continued once again! It'll require a whole other post to tackle that!
newmoonstar: (Love Never Dies)
Well, here goes my attempt to sort out my thoughts on Love Never Dies into a somewhat neat and intelligible review! (Haha- we'll see if that actually happens!)

So, firstly, having sat with it for a couple of weeks, my overall feelings toward LND are somewhat different than they were upon my initial listening. Since then I've been re-playing my favorite songs almost non-stop, and I can actually say that it's a truly beautiful score that I honestly love. The initial shock of the more preposterous plot points and out-of-character characters made me rather resistant to loving any part of it, but I think I'm finally at that point where I can be whole-hearted in my embrace of it's good parts, even if I still hate other parts of it. Having seen the Australian production helps a little too, since some of the tweaks softened it's fail to less epic proportions!

The differences between the London and Melbourne productions )

But I still prefer the London leads, and can't help raving about them! )

...To be contined in the next post! Yes, I have VERY mixed feelings and a VERY complex love/hate relationship with this show, and I'm gonna need another day and some more time to get it all out coherently!
newmoonstar: (phantom of the opera)
Ever since they aired the 25th Anniversary production of The Phantom of the Opera at Royal Albert Hall on PBS, I've been on a huge Phantom kick, which has even extended to Love Never Dies. This week I actually went to see the films of both productions on the big screen at the movie theater (final encore showings! Thank heaven I found out in time!!) and so, obviously, I have some thoughts!

PotO 25: totally worth spending way more than a movie ticket should ever cost! )

To be continued in the next entry with thoughts on both productions of Love Never Dies!
newmoonstar: (phantom of the opera)
Okay, I know I'm a few years late, but I finally listened to the cast recording of Love Never Dies, the infamous Phantom of the Opera sequel. I remember back before it opened I'd seen Sierra Boggess sing the title song on some TV show, and I remember being seriously unimpressed, and once the production actually appeared, the word among Phantom fans was that it was terrible and to be avoided at all costs, so I shrugged and didn't give it a second thought. Until this January, when the 25th anniversary staging of PotO aired on PBS. Once I learned that the leads had also been in Love Never Dies, the curiosity was too strong! I knew it would be a train wreck, but like all good train wrecks, as much as you don't wanna look, you just HAVE TO!

An overview of the original London cast recording of Love Never Dies, not terribly in depth because I'm still reeling from it! Contains spoilers! )


Mar. 24th, 2011 06:56 pm
newmoonstar: (Default)
Today's dose of happy stuff is: Musicals! While my Broadway Odyssey of exploring musical theater through listening to as many cast recordings as I can find has dropped off for the last year or so, I still do it when I can, and my most recent happy discovery is 110 in the Shade. A lovely little musical from 1963, it has an extremely fine score; highlights include the melodious 'Gonna Be Another Hot Day' and 'Rain Song' among other gems. The cast is great, filled with really talented singers of the kind that unfortunately are getting quite rare in musicals these days. Definitely required listening.

Also watched the Les Miserables 25th anniversary concert on PBS. I never cared for the show itself, but hey, free musical theatre is free musical theatre, and this had a really great cast of the aforementioned increasingly scarce amazing singers. The only unfortunate point was Nick Jonas as Marius, since he is pop star with a pop voice, and couldn't hold his own against all those powerful operatic voices. But everybody else was great, and even though I find most of Les Mis way too heavy and ponderous, there were some nice moments that made it worthwhile to sit through all four hours. (Although finding out they've got school children doing this show is rather disturbing; I hope they changed it A LOT for the kids, because asking some ten year old to play a prostitute would be more wrong than I can possibly imagine!!)

Now that I'm over whatever weird virus I had for the last two weeks, hopefully I'm done being ill for the foreseeable future, and might possibly start sewing again. So maybe the Broadway Odyssey might continue at a jauntier pace, since I'm going to need something to listen to when I'm cutting and laying out pattern pieces. :)
newmoonstar: (Default)
Oh internet, I missed you! I've just finished a week long housecleaning stint, and I still have way more to do before it's even close to where I want it to be, but I need a break for a while. So back to fun things temporarily!

Last night I finally caught the Broadway revival of South Pacific on Live from Lincoln Center on PBS, and I'm quite impressed. I've never cared much for South Pacific, despite it containing some very lovely melodies, but every production I've ever seen of it massively sucked, so that didn't help. But this was definitely the best one I've ever seen, especially since they didn't cast a smarmy old guy as Emile de Becque. This de Becque was very likeable and had SUCH a gorgeous voice. And he and Kelli O'Hara at least looked like they were from the same generation, so it took the creepy factor out of their love story, and made me really root for them. So I got to enjoy the songs in a whole new way because it adds another dimension when you actually care about the characters. I'm probably going to have 'Honey Bun' stuck in my head forever now, but it's worth it for the new perspective I gained on an old show I thought I knew.
newmoonstar: (man in chair (everyfivesecond))
The Broadway Odyssey continues; I've fallen in love with The Secret Garden in a big way. A gorgeous score, rich and atmospheric, a wonderful cast, a magical story, the whole nine yards. I hadn't actually read the novel before, so I rushed out and got it after I listened to the show, and I really love it. The show does diverge from the book in a lot of ways; even before I read the book I thought the numbers with the adults going on about their past and how they all loved Lily were unnecessary and dull, and distracted too much from the main story, and after reading the novel, and finding out that there was nothing of the sort in the source material, I think so even more. Also reading the musical's libretto and finding they wasted a whole book scene on an invented sub-plot about sending Mary to a boarding school, is a bit distracting as well. But I can put up with all that, because of all the good stuff that's there. The music really captured the feeling of magic the novel has. And the cast was wonderful; usually child stage actors are way too hammy, but Daisy Eagan was very natural as Mary; John Cameron Mitchell was great as Dickon, despite the fact that they made the character older, he still had the right sort of elfin charm to make it work; even Mandy Patinkin, (who is the last person who could ever believably play an Englishman) played the role much more low-key than I've ever seen him in anything, thankfully! In fact the whole cast found just the right tone for it, and the ones who had to have Yorkshire accents accomplished them splendidly. The whole thing was a great treat, well-done from start to finish.

I wish I could say the same for the cast recording of the 2001 London revival, though! I was intrigued by the fact that it was supposed to be a 'steamlined' version, but instead of cutting just the extraneous material, they cut some of the best songs too! The did cut the "Quartet" for the adult characters, which was the weakest number, but they also cut "Show Me The Key", which was one of the best! It was also a very important plot point, when the robin shows Mary the key to the secret garden, and it was the most ingeniously integrated piece of musical adaptation in the whole show. But in a way I'm almost glad they did, because the London cast was terrible. Mary and Dickon were the best in the Broadway cast, but the worst in London. Their Mary was one of those stagey hammy children you always find, and their Dickon was... I don't know what that was! He was very strange and even a little bit creepy, because he's really crazily excited about whatever he's singing about, and it was just strange. They really ruined "Wick", and I fear what they would have done to "Show Me the Key". And his accent was terrible! It was something akin to Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins, I kid you not. You would think an English actor (I assume he's English, anyhow) could do Yorkshire at least as well as an American, but no. Happily, they did cut most of the ghosts and their rather repetitive commentary (Yes, people, it's a concept musical! There are singing ghosts!) but they added a whole chorus of singing, dancing servants and gardeners! WTF??? How can it be a Secret Garden if there are twenty servants regularly invading it to sing and dance?? At least the 7 or 8 ghosts aren't actually 'there'. And Colin's mother being there as a ghost makes sense, because it was her garden. But dancing servants! Oy. And the guy who played Ben Weatherstaff was a comic or something, I think, and screwed up "It's a Maze" by trying to make it a more comedic number. The one thing I liked in the show was how they extended "Come Spirit, Come Charm" to include more of the Hindustani chant and swirling Indian music, but that's literally the only good thing in it that they didn't screw up. That was the big problem here, the tone was all wrong. They tried to make it cute or silly or jolly, when it's supposed to be beautiful and solemn and joyous. I suppose that's a weird combination that's hard to get right. But the Broadway production did it. I think I'll have to make some room for it on my list of favorite musicals. In the top 5 even. It's that good!
newmoonstar: (man in chair (everyfivesecond))
On Saturday I actually went to see The Drowsy Chaperone! I'm still squeeing over it! It was the cutest thing ever. (Synopsis: A musical comedy about a fan who guides us through the cast album of his favorite 1920's musical, 'The Drowsy Chaperone', which comes to life before us as he provides amusing background facts and commentary. Hilarity ensues.) I had a feeling listening to the cast recording that this was just one of those shows you had to see to really get, and I was right. It's so funny and so sweet and curiously touching even (possibly because it glorifies a group that I belong to: devoted, opinionated, hopelessly besotted musical theater lovers!) It's quite frightening how much the Man in Chair reminds me of me! Brushing off his records, sitting parked in front of his record player with a juice box and a rapt expression as his favorite cast album plays! I sound just like him when I talk about musicals to people, it's truly scary! But I love him. The guy who played him was just fantastic. And I had orchestra seats, so I was close enough to actually see him, and the rest of the show properly! The costumes were just gorgeous, and I was making mental notes of every stitch and sequin! That is, when I wasn't distracted by the very pretty actor who played Robert Martin! I think he was a good casting choice, since one could understand why the Man in Chair would have a crush on him, unlike the rather oldish and much less pretty guy in the Broadway cast! The actress who played Mrs. Tottendale was rather too young though, and my mum didn't understand why she was forgetful and wearing old-fashioned clothes, until I explained the character was supposed to be old! But she was still good.(And she was wearing the Lucile 'Happiness' dress! I just love catching those things! There's just not enough love out there for Lady Duff-Gordon!) And I'm absolutely determined that I will make a doll-sized replica of the set with the bed that had the gold peacock headboard and purple bedding!

But anyhoo, the musical numbers were lovely, and I appreciate the songs much more, since they're not terribly memorable in and of themselves, being pretty much pastiches and parodies of twenties styles, you've got to have the whole frame of the show around it to make them work. And especially big dance numbers, there's nothing worse than listening to dance numbers on cast albums, because you hear the taps but obviously can't see where they come from! But when you do see them, it's adorable. Especially during the 'Bride's Lament', the monkey joke is funny on the album, but when you see the ensemble dancing around in monkey costumes, well... it helps! And seeing the Man in Chair dancing around and mouthing the words along with the characters! Don't we all do that? It's too funny! It's those little things that make it so magical. I've SO got to see more live shows. It's been ten years since the last one I went to! I hope there'll be some good stuff next year, because I don't want to make it another ten years before the next!
newmoonstar: (waterhouse (icons_by_jenn))
Just spent far too much money on random pretty things at Barnes and Noble. A journal with a Lady of Shalott cover (notice my icon!) and an oriental rug bookmark and lots of post cards and greeting cards, so if I have your address you will get a pretty card for Valentine's Day! :) Was much amused and almost tempted by the Stephen Colbert bookbag, but frugality finally triumphed.

Listened to Titanic: The Musical cast recording last night, and was quite impressed. I saw one number from it on a TV show back when it first came out, and I remember thinking it was very pretty (it was probably "Godspeed Titanic" since I knew the tune when I heard it again), but the whole score is quite top notch. The stoker has the most lyrical music of all the characters in two wonderful numbers, there's even some fun stuff in a cute period-inflected number about "Doing the Latest Rag", and even the rather ominous stuff leading up to and during the sinking has a strange beauty about it. It's pretty heavy story-wise, since unlike the famous movie of the same name, it's about 'Titanic as microcosm of and commentary on society' rather than a single character who happens to be on the Titanic, but it's never confusing and comes together very well, as well as being just downright more interesting. I think I'll read the libretto, and give it another listen before moving on in my Broadway Odyssey. :)
newmoonstar: (Default)
Okay, the BBC has just gotta stop making such good Bronte adaptations, because I'm being converted into a total Bronte fan against my will. Now mind you, Wuthering Heights is still totally stupid in my opinion, but it's also lots of fun. The first episode on Masterpiece Theatre was Victorian Soap Opera a-gogo. So much crazy! So much drama! In Regency clothes! And I love the interior they used for Thrushcross Grange. But the best of all is the spectacularly brooding emo craziness of Tom Hardy as Heathcliff. It's like if Gary Oldman had played Heathcliff 15 years ago, but more so. It has to be seen to be believed. I think this is why I never liked Wuthering Heights before, I was taking it too seriously. You have to embrace it's campy Days-of-Our-Lives-in-petticoats side. With that in mind, I totally can't wait for the next episode!

On the Broadway cast album front, I'm utterly in love with The Mystery of Edwin Drood. The music is great, and the cast is great, and it's a great idea, and well, the whole thing's just great! 'Moonfall' is an eerily beautiful number, and all of the numbers that Howard McGillin sings in are great because he's great in them. Now, mind you, because of it's unique 'solve it yourself' format, it's an entirely confusing cast album toward the end, no matter how familiar you are with Drood as a book or the many theories surrounding it's conclusion. However, once you read the libretto, it not only makes sense, you find out how bloody brilliant it is. All I can say is go read the libretto, then go listen to the cast album. You won't regret it! All I regret is that Rupert Holmes hasn't made any more musicals! (As far as I've been able to discover.)


newmoonstar: (Default)

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