Bleh with Barry

Random with a cynical twist of lime.

Posts Tagged ‘broadway

Send in the Clowns

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So, today, when I arrived back at my apartment after being out all day. I settled in front of my computer for a few minutes before I went to shower and ready myself for bed, and a song popped into my head because I was in the appropriate mood for it. “Send in the Clowns” from the Sondheim musical A Little Night Music, which I don’t know a terrible lot about, arrived in my psyche.

If you’re familiar with the song, it is generally sung by a woman, and it almost seems like she is talking about being in a circus…because this is what all the metaphors and similes contained within the piece are about. But if you go deeper, you will find that the song is actually about a failing relationship which seems like it is just falling apart. In the course of the song, the actress sings that people need to send in the clowns to detract from what is really going on (in the circus world of old this was actually done if something happened unexpectedly). She continues to plead with them and her lover as the song progresses until at the very end she says “don’t bother, they’re here” referring to herself and her mate. She knows that their relationship is in a funk that will probably never resolve itself. Thereby, it is a mockery and a show to all who look upon it. They are in fact the clowns.

Today, this song entered my mind because of the mood that I’ve been in. Now, I don’t have a faltering relationship that I’m dealing with or anything to that effect. It’s just that I feel like my world is topsy-turvy, and I feel like I myself am on display as a clown (not to say that I don’t enjoy being a clown every once and a while). It’s just such an odd feeling. I’m not necessarily saying that it’s a bad feeling either…it’s just an emotion that is going wonky on me…hmmmmm….Anyway, here’s a great version of the song performed by Glenn Close. I hope you enjoy.

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The Phantom of the Opera

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Recently, I got the opportunity to go to New York City for the second time. While I was there, I got to watch several musicals (my whole reason for wanting to go…there’s nothing like watching a musical on Broadway). Of these several, I got to see The Phantom of the Opera (POTO) for the third time, and honestly, I can say that I enjoyed and felt like I was watching it for the first time because new actors bring nuances to characters that I might not have ever thought of before. However, with this being said, some other thoughts came to my mind after I enjoyed watching the show.

I’m sure some of you have heard of the sequel to POTO that just premiered in England and will be making its way to Broadway in the fall. I have heard the music and the plot and believe that Webber is making a tragic mistake in trying to write this particular musical. Love Never Dies is set in Coney Island, New York where the Phantom runs a freak show. He lures Christine to him…and then, all hell breaks loose….it’s an odd concept. Also, most of the songs are slow and musically boring for me. It lacks the pizzazz of the original…My thoughts about the whole thing are as follows.

1. With POTO being in the Majestic Theater for the past 23 years, I wonder if they are going to try to replace it with the sequel. I think that this would be sheer lunacy on their part because POTO has never had an unsold seat (as far as I know)…I was there the other day, and all the seats were filled to brimming with people of all nationalities and backgrounds. It still mystifies people even now.

2. Will the sequel be successful? I think in my own mind that it will have some success because it is tied to POTO, but I also believe that the success will be short lived. Listen to the cast recording, and you’ll understand. Their voices are nice; however, the songs themselves have no substance….I started listening for  “Masquerade” or “Point of No Return” and heard nothing that reminded me of any of POTO other than they used the same characters…

3. Will this musical have an effect on POTO? Is this musical going to cause POTO to lose its popularity? Or is there nothing out there that can make this happen?….Honestly, I don’t know about this one…it’s a toss up because people are fickle. If people were predictable, then, this question would be more answerable in my mind.

4. Is Andrew Lloyd Weber losing his touch? Since the 80’s, Webber has enjoyed limited success with his music….he has opened a few musicals (Woman in White, etc.) that haven’t done well at all…has he lost his touch? I think that it may be because he is trying to find something fresh and new for himself when he should stick to his 80’s power ballad style…

Next to Normal

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Next to Normal is a stunning, fairly new musical on Broadway in New York City. I had the privilege recently of going to NYC and seeing it for myself. Now, I’m not one to divulge a lot about a musical just in case people reading this plan to see it. I don’t want to ruin any beautiful moment of it. However, I will say that I give it 5 stars (out of 5) because it intrigues me and because its story made me cry.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPfxUGMKgLA

In the show, you are introduced to a seemingly average family. Yet, this facade is not long lived as we find out that the mother Diana (played by Alice Ripley) has a history of mental illness. The show gives insight into how families deal with psychological disease and how they cope. N2N is grounded in amazing visuals and tight harmonies with the cast of six providing all the vocals for every song that is sung from “Just Another Day” till the finale “Light”. All the actors I saw played their parts wonderfully. Alice Ripley played the part of Diana superbly, belting out the “You Don’t Know” and bringing it down for more intimate numbers like ” I Miss the Mountains”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZQM7ELKrRA

J. Robert Spencer (playing Dan, the Dad), Adam Chanler-Berat (Henry), and Louis Hobson (Dr. Madden/Dr. Fine) performed to top-notch standard. They all left me feeling connected to their characters at various times during the show. However, the two standouts of the cast I saw were Kyle Dean Massey (Gabe) and Meghann Fahy (Natalie). These two play the children of Dan and Diana. I didn’t know if I was going to like Massey because I had heard him from recordings on youtube. I didn’t know if he was going to stand up to Aaron Tveit’s original performance; however, he blew me away because I thought him to have more poise and better pitch than Tveit (in live recording’s Tveit sometimes has sketchy pitch). Massey was wonderful. Fahy, who is in fact the understudy for the part of Natalie, did a better job in my opinion than Jennifer Damiano because she was less screechy and whiny on the top notes than Damiano is. This fact speaks wonders to me because I like to have a smoother sound in the tight harmonies. Sometimes, Damiano’s voice just seems to clash with the others (although the notes are there).

If you haven’t seen Next to Normal and you live in NYC or are visiting, I would suggest going to see this gem. Staged in the Booth Theater between 45th and Broadway, it boasts amazing sets and spectacle to keep anyone on their toes. The music and story will thrill you, chill you, and leave you sobbing yet hopeful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wN6KXFeMK8A&feature=fvw

Next to Normal, Addams Family, and Wicked: Oh My!

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From listening to the soundtrack and watching clips on youtube.com, I am getting excited about seeing this musical. In a few days, I will journey to New York City with other members of the college choir. This musical seems interesting because it plays with the existence of nonexistent characters. In the show, you have a woman, Diana, who is losing her mind. It seems to be an intriguing look into the aftermath of losing a child and what happens to the family surrounding that person. Diana begins to lose her grip on reality, and her family must deal with this in order to try to salvage what is left of them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pYo-dflx4Gk

Addams Family the Musical also interests me because of the cast of characters. I am a fan of the Addams Family because I enjoy their type of macabre humor. The musical would probably target me quite well. It also stars Nathan Lane, Bebe Neuworth, Terrence Mann, and Carol Lee Carmello. All of them seasoned Broadway stars. This musical should be vocally good if not exciting over all. I really hope that I can find tickets to the preview….*sigh*…..

Also, I am very excited about seeing Wicked with the group. This is the one musical that I am assured to see. I am excited to see the hidden story of Oz unfold before me, Elphaba fly, and to experience the spectacle. I am a great believer that when going to New York you should at least see one show that relies heavily on spectacle because where else are you going to get the experience of the big theater.

I am throughly excited to get the opportunity to go to New York again….I hope that I am able to experience some musical goodness while I am there. I love music. I feel that it is the undercurrent of our souls. It speaks to us in ways no words can. Musicals are no exception.

Coffee in a Cardboard Cup

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Yesterday, I got the delight to go see one of my best friends perform in a musical review of Kander and Ebb called The World Goes ‘Round. Now you out there might be scratching your heads as to who this famed duo is…they are responsible for the shows such as Caberet and Chicago and for such famous songs as “New York, New York” which was a hit for old blue eyes himself.

The matinée was great. The people performing were community people of Huntsville, AL; yet, it is the best show that I’ve been to in a long time. The music was good and the staging was good. I also felt like it was a good choice of musical review for Ars Nova, the theatre space they performed in. The review lends itself to be a more intimate experience, and they pulled it off well.

Overall, I think that the ensemble pieces were my favorite parts because of the intensely tight harmonies in them. But individual pieces that I like included my friend Christa’s rendition of “A Quiet Thing” from Flora and the Red Menace. It was a beautiful song that was sung beautifully. I also liked several others…but I’m not sure of all the names of the other performers…nor the exact title of the songs they performed. My favorite song, however, was probably “New York, New York” because it was truly the crown jewel of the show and ended it strongly.

“But the World Goes ‘Round”

Sometimes you’re happy, sometimes you’re sad
But the world goes ’round
Sometimes you lose every nickel you had
But the world goes ’round

Sometimes your dreams get broken in pieces
But that doesn’t alter a thing
Take it from me, there’s still gonna be
A summer, a winter, a fall and a spring

And sometimes a friend starts treating you bad
But the world goes ’round
And sometimes your heart breaks with a deafening sound

Somebody loses and somebody wins
And one day it’s kicks, then it’s kicks in the shins
But the planet spins, and the world goes ’round-
But the world goes ’round
But the world goes ’round

Sometimes your dreams get broken in pieces
But that doesn’t matter at all
Take it from me, there’s still gonna be
A summer, a winter, a spring and a fall

And sometimes a friend starts treating you bad
But the world goes ’round
And sometimes your heart breaks with a deafening sound

Somebody loses and somebody wins
Then one day it’s kicks, then it’s kicks in the shins
But the planet spins, and the world goes ’round
And ’round and ’round and ’round and ’round
The world goes ’round and ’round and ’round
And ’round!

Elaine Paige Vs. Susan Boyle….no competition…please…

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Recently, I have been doing a lot of web surfing, and in my searches for Les Miserables songs, I came across several that were comparing Elaine Paige to Susan Boyle all because Susan Boyle dropped Elaine’s name in Britain’s Got Talent (BGT). Susan said that it was her dream to be like Elaine Paige and commenced to sing “I Dreamed a Dream” (a Paige specialty). She sang it beautifully for someone who is on a talent search type show. However, it is not really a fair comparison to make for Susan and for Elaine.

First off, Elaine has been a singer for some 40 years professionally. Susan Boyle is a TALENT SHOW sensation. I’m not saying that I dislike her, but she does not have the experience that someone of Elaine’s caliber does. Look at her acting career http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elaine_Paige . It speaks wonders of her experience.  She has appeared in Hair, Cats as Grizabella, Evita as Eva Peron, and other notable musicals. How can you compare that to Susan who was a virtual unknown until summer of last year. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_boyle

Secondly, Elaine Paige supported Susan. There are many people out there that think that Elaine just bashed Boyle. However, did you ever think of why if this were true would she sing a duet of “I Know Him So Well” from Chess (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sF1hIaHKANk)? Elaine Paige is one of the few genuine people left from that age of Broadway/West End Theater. She is a humble and nice star. Why can’t people see that?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ua-vKRx8MsA

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s96NZoeDs68

My final thought on the whole matter is this: how can you critique something if you have never seen or you don’t know the show that it came from. Last night while looking through the plethora of vids of the “SUSAN VS ELAINE” vids, I came across so many misinformed people’s comments that it made me irritated beyond belief. Elaine Paige has a style that rivals other Broadway Greats like Bernadette Peters, Patti Lupone, Angela Lansbery and many others. Also, it’s musical THEATER for God’s sake…you are supposed to act and sing and dance. That’s the whole concept of it all. I mean true Susan does have an alright singing voice; however, she has no stage presence. She seems like a scared puppy at times.

You can’t compare them is my main point. You are trying to compare apples and oranges. Elaine is a polished performing goddess with 40+ years of experience. Susan is a Cinderella Story for BGT (and I wish her well in her endeavours), but really, that’s all she’s got. Both are good in their own rights. One just has the street cred to back up all that she’s done.