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Showing posts from November, 2009

Long Live Rock

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I posted on Thanksgiving about how thankful I was to have music in my life. On Saturday I got to visit the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum in (oh me-o, oh my-o, oh) Cleveland, OH and my gratitude only increased.

In a recent issue of Rolling Stone, the Hall of Fame and Museum dominated almost the entire issue. Rolling Stone’s editor and Publisher Jann Wenner was actually instrumental in establishing the Hall of Fame so covering the excitement surrounding the recent 25th Anniversary concert* that took place over two nights in New York’s Madison Square Garden was a no brainer. The issue is chock full of information about the Hall and Museum, including an explanation to the oft asked question, “Why is it in Cleveland?” (Answer: Alan Freed, a Cleveland DJ, coined the term “rock and roll”; that and Cleveland offered financial support for the museum!) Check out the issue for in-depth coverage of the concert and a thorough history of the Hall of Fame and museum.

My experience at the Museum …

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Music Saves - Thank Goodness

Just a quick note about last night's Glee. The episode was good but the Imagine scene was great. The glee club from the school for the deaf began "singing" and signing John Lennon's Imagine; Mercedes (the sassy Amber Riley) was so moved she began singing in her seat. After a few bars she got up and sang, shoulder to shoulder, with the other club's lead vocalist. Then Artie joined her. Then Tina and Rachel and all the McKinley High misfits. The two clubs were singing together, signing together, expressing themselves, in their own ways, united by music. I started to cry and thought, "This is the power of music. Music unites us all and connects us and allows us to have these beautiful moments of clarity and peace." Well done, Glee.

On this Thanksgiving, I am eternally grateful and thankful for music. It truly is "the way we sing that makes 'em dream". Happy Thanksgiving!

American Idiot: Berkeley

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I remember anticipating and then purchasing Green Day’s "American Idiot" in 2004. We were at the tail end of a heated presidential election – the first one in which I was eligible to vote for POTUS. W. was the incumbent and Senator John Kerry his opponent. On campus, you couldn’t get through the student union without passing by wranglers for both sides. Even my crush was getting into it, manning a booth and canvassing his neighborhood. (Unfortunately, he was supporting what I thought was the wrong side.) Folksiness and ignorance were being celebrated while intellect and an inclination toward analysis had to make its case. The country was at war (with one another – figuratively – and with countries abroad – literally) and I was hungry for someone or something to speak to me – to express the rage I had for those who celebrated ignorance and a feeling of being eschewed by a country whose most vocal majority probably didn’t know what “eschewed’ meant. Along came Green Day and it…

He Made Us Laugh!

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Since the season began in September, Saturday Night Live has been, in my opinion, only sporadically funny. My favorite parts of SNL are usually Weekend Update, the digital short and the cold open, in that order; the sketches are not consistently funny or sometimes the funniest sketch is on at 12:50, rather than in a prime pre-Weekend Update block. This past Saturday’s episode, though, hosted by the adorable Joseph Gordon-Levitt, was entirely funny.

The late-in-the-show Thanksgiving sketch had a good pay-off after a slow start: When the family began singing Wilson Phillips, I was laughing out loud. (Watch highlights from the episode on Hulu.) And, more remarkable, the final sketch – usually more of a filler than anything else – could easily have been slated in the front of the show: Recreating the infamous “Lloyd holding the boom-box” scene from Say Anything, Gordon-Levitt’s deadpan Lloyd was smartly contrasted with Jason Sudeikis’s wise cracking neighbor. The digital short was definite…

Off-Broadway Briefing

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As promised, here’s an off-Broadway Briefing:


Avenue Q - full disclosure - I haven’t seen the show since it transferred off-Broadway; truth be told I haven’t seen Avenue Q since December 2003, before it David-ed Goliath, aka Wicked. (I guess, though, since Wicked continues to play to capacity - and on Broadway - Elphaba, Glinda and Fiyero got the last laugh.) All that said, I really like Avenue Q. My family - mom, dad, brother and me - saw it together and we all liked it. My mom and I are really the only theatre fans so the fact that even my brother liked it is quite an endorsement. Avenue Q is snarky yet surprisingly affecting for a show I’d describe as Sesame Street on crack, though I mean that as a compliment. One of my favorite songs is “Mix Tape” in which Kate Monster tries to decipher the meaning behind the songs on the mix tape her crush, Princeton, just gave to her. When, at the end of the song, Kate quietly says to herself, “He likes me!” I tear up nearly every time. Avenue Q …

Broadway Briefing

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In the interest of efficiency, rather than back-logging I instead offer this briefing of shows I’ve seen (that are still playing and that I didn’t review in depth in a previous post). Going forward, I’ll share my complete thoughts about and reactions to shows, concerts, et al as I see them. This post is the Broadway edition. A smaller off-Broadway edition will be posted later.



The 39 Steps – fun and entertaining; four cast members play over one hundred characters, using light and sound to great effect. This is closing in January, (it was originally a limited run, then extended to an open ended run and went through several venue changes; there’s now talk that it may move off-Broadway, a la Avenue Q) so try to see it at the Helen Hayes Theatre while it’s there.

Billy Elliot – good but not revelatory. The choreography is impressive but the score is derivative. A general crowd pleaser, BE is selling so well that one year into their run they still don’t have to offer discounts. If you want …

West Side Story

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Okay, so maybe horror is a bit strong. The current revival of West Side Story is not a horror. But it is not for a lack of trying. Bad direction, awkward book revisions and weak or ill-suited actors turn one of the best American musicals into a drab and poorly executed tourist trap.

Based on Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet, West Side Story tells the tale of star crossed lovers Tony, a former Jet, and Maria, a recent Puerto Rican immigrant whose brother is the leader of the Jets’ rival gang, the Sharks. With music by Leonard Bernstein, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim and original choreography (mostly faithfully recreated here) by the great Jerome Robbins, West Side Story has become one of the most acclaimed and beloved pieces of art in the American Musical Theatre canon. What trips up this production are both the hubris of original book writer Arthur Laurents and some of the cast.

Laurents, a theatre world luminary, was widely applauded for his direction of last season’s Gypsy. (Laurents wrote t…

Next to Normal

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I like roller coasters. When I was in college (in Orlando) I frequented Islands of Adventure so I could ride in the front row of Ice and channel my inner Bruce Banner while blasting through The Hulk. I like having that excitement – bursts at a time – preceded by climbing anticipation and followed by relieved recovery. I like my theatre like I like roller coasters which is why, to bring it around, I love Next to Normal.

Next to Normal is an original American musical, over ten years in the making and well worth the wait. I was first exposed to the dramatic musical in February 2008 when it was produced off-Broadway by Second Stage Theatre. I didn’t know what to expect – didn’t even have a clue as to what the show was about – and was thoroughly entertained and moved by the show and completely blown away by (most) of the cast. (Two cast members have changed since that iteration; one is equally as good as his predecessor and one is miles better.) The emotion in Alice Ripley’s voice; the elec…

Hair

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The Hippies are at the Hirschfeld – Hallelujah! The current revival of Hair, the seminal 1960s American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is not to be missed. I’ve seen this production, including the iteration from the Park last summer, ten times and counting, with tickets for my eleventh and twelfth viewing already purchased.

Hair follows a group of passionate young people “who care about strangers, who say they care about social injustice” and who love to live life. It begins by heralding in the Age of Aquarius and then we are soon introduced to the beautiful Hippies who will be our guides, including Claude (played by the passionate Gavin Creel), Woof (embodied by the endlessly talented Bryce Ryness) and Jeanie (brought to life by the exuberant Kacie Sheik). When Claude receives his draft notice (the show takes place in 1967) he grapples with what to do.

Really, what the American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is about is passion: Caring so deeply about something you’re moved to action. This show sh…