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Monthly Archives: April 2010

Theatre Review: Steve Silver’s “Beach Blanket Babylon” @ Club Fugazi (SF), 04/24/10

Photo by Rick Markovich

Walter M. Mayes, Guest Reviewer

Like visiting Fisherman’s Wharf or Alcatraz, seeing Beach Blanket Babylon is one of those uniquely San Francisco experiences that many natives feel is more for the tourists—something wild but safe to do when Aunt Hannah comes to town; though I have lived in the city for nearly thirty years and entertained many out of town guests, I had never seen the show.

Of course, I knew about it—you’d have to be culturally comatose not to know of Steve Silver’s contribution to the arts in the city. Val Diamond! Snow White and Rob Lowe at the Oscars in 1989! Mr. Peanut! And those hats!!! So I had a pretty good idea what I was in for when I grabbed my friend Brett and headed to North Beach for the 9:30 show last Saturday.

Let’s just say that the show is completely reviewer-proof, and were I to spend time bemoaning the baseness of much of its humor or the fling-everything-against-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks-style of its staging, it would not sell one less ticket. I was shocked they offered review passes at all. Neither would complaining about uncomfortable cabaret chairs and ridiculous drink prices.

But this is all quite beside the point, because it is impossible not to have a good time at BBB! It has the hardest working cast I’ve seen in a long time, and they bring an energy that is just short of frenzied to every moment in the revue. Yes, dozens of pop culture figures of the moment make appearances (mostly limited to those who have made a lasting impact), and the jokes and song snippets fly fast and furiously (if you don’t care for one, just wait—there’ll be eight more in a minute), and the wigs and hats are the real star of the show (you may have heard about them or seen photographs, but you can’t fully appreciate them until you see the actors maneuver them on and offstage). But this amazing troupe of performers puts every bit of talent they have into selling this show, and I have no doubt that each audience is made to feel special and welcome, as if the show is being performed just for them, and that is an incredible rarity in any show.

The music relies heavily on rock standards of an earlier era, with just enough Broadway to add some flair, but there is always something more contemporary thrown into the mix, as in a mashup of Beyonce’s “Single Ladies” and American Idol’s “Pants on the Ground,” that was just one example of keeping the mix fresh. Of course, Elvis will never die, and neither will Tina Turner, Michael Jackson (I could watch the “Thriller” dance over and over), and Madonna, who all make wonderfully funny appearances. Every member of the cast of nine gets moments to shine, and every one of them is fabulous, though Caitlin McGinty and Ryan Rigazzi share my vote for best in show.

If you’ve seen BBB before, you know that they keep some of the best bits in forever, but that they regularly update the show and add new material. But if you haven’t seen it, you really need to—there is a reason it is a San Francisco institution, and the proof is on display every night at Club Fugazi.

Website | Tickets

 

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Bay Area Theatre: Weekend Picks, April 30 – May 2

Here are The Broadway Critic’s picks for Bay Area Theatre this weekend:

1. Peter Pan at Ferry Building (San Francisco) – While this hasn’t officially opened, (so therefore, I haven’t seen it) word on the street is that Peter Pan is a totally new and exciting theatrical experience – one that you won’t want to miss out on. I’m off to see this on May 9th. I’ve also heard that they should have made it into a musical. And all this time, I actually thought it was the musical. Make sure you get your tickets soon.

Website | Tickets

2. RENT at Palo Alto Players – Here’s another show that I haven’t seen, but recommend this weekend. RENT holds a special place in my heart, as it was the first Broadway musical that I couldn’t stop listening to. I’m intrigued to see this production. I’ve never seen anything at Palo Alto Players and I haven’t seen RENT for almost 3 years now (last time being on Broadway with Anthony Rapp and Tamyra Gray). I’m off to see this tonight! There’ll be a review up early next week. It closes May 9th.

Website | Tickets

3. Urinetown at Sunnyvale Community Players – Urinetown, the hilarious Tony Award winning musical, is closing out Sunnyvale Community Players’ 40th Season. I’d say, it’s a damn great choice. I love this show more than anything and I’ve been hearing that this production is pretty hysterical and well-worth your time. Again, another show that I haven’t seen but I’m interested in checking it out before it closes on May 9th. Plus, it has a few dear friends in it! Check out some reviews on Artsopolis.com.

Website | Tickets

On My Radar:

  • Gypsy at Hillbarn Theatre – Gypsy opens on May 7th and runs through May 30th. It will prove to be an amazing production featuring actors Annmarie Martin, Milly Boyse, Dan Kapler, Patti Appel, Cheryl Ringman, and more… More info
  • Little Shop of Horrors at Busbarn Theatre – I hear they have the most amazing Audrey! (Apparently, she had a major callback with the folks down at GLEE and sang with Lea Michele for three days.) Yes, that’s how good she is. I will definitely not be missing this one. Opens on May 20th. More info

Until next week…

 

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Broadway News/Blog Round Up #18

Each week, The Broadway Critic will be featuring the news that you don’t want to miss! A lot has happened since we posted about Brian D’Arcy James starring in Next to Normal and American Idiot opening on Broadway.

  • Everyday Rapture released the new cast recording on Tuesday, digitally and in stores. You can check out some great photos on Broadwayworld.com. It opens on Broadway today, Thursday April, 29th. I’m super happy that Sherie Rene Scott gets this chance to shine on Broadway again! (Thank you, Megan for making that possible.)
  • Memphis is possibly becoming a movie musical. Really? I’m not happy about this one. There are so many other shows that I would rather see as a movie musical. But, I’m thinking – if done correctly – the movie could be much better than the Broadway version and maybe they’ll have time to fix that ridiculous ending. Or, it could just end up like the dismal, Nine. Thoughts?
  • Playbill.com interviewed Rebecca Naomi Jones (star of American Idiot) and found out that she wants Ben Fold’s music to be in a musical. Read some other great answers here.
  • Hunter Foster weighs in on this year’s Broadway season and talks about the lack of new Broadway scores. Interesting read.
  • Rumor Alert: Sutton Foster might be returning to Broadway next season in a new revival of Anything Goes. I’m really a fan of anything that Foster does, but I will say that “Sutton Foster/Cole Porter” combined seems like absolute bliss to me.
  • Last but not least, it’s Broadway Week with Regis & Kelly. More info on who’s performing, here.

Broadway Blog Round-Up:

  • Read all about Sarah B.’s adventures seeing a ton of Broadway shows, going to Sondheim’s birthday party and running to other fellow theatre bloggers in her “Catching up on some adventures…” post.
  • “Everything I Know I Learned From Musicals” finally weighed in on Next to Normal winning the Pulitzer Prize this year. “Is it possible for a show to be worthy of a Pulitzer Prize yet still espouse a viewpoint that I find questionable at best, dangerous at worst? Well, that’s free speech for ya. At the very least, Next to Normal provides the opportunity to create some dialog about the topic of mental illness.” Read and comment here.
  • Broadway Across America announced their next season in Boston and Gratuitous V covers the pros and cons about their decision. Read here.
  • Musicals in L.A. interviewed Erin Quill (Avenue Q) and talks about her new show, The Mikado Project.
  • Read Pataphysical Science’s view on American Idiot. She thought “Good Riddance” was cheesy. Do you agree? I don’t.
  • Stage Notes reviewed the new revival, Promises, Promises that’s starring Sean Hayes and Kristen Chenoweth. She seems to agree with all of the critics: “Katie Finneran is the surprising break out star who comes out of nowhere in this story as Marge McDougal. She is hilarious! She’s a genius with physical comedy and we were in stitches with her every line. What a natural!”
  • “But one thing stands out above all else, that is that Stephen Sondheim is a prolific genius, the likes of whom we may never see again.” – The Andy Gram reviews Sondheim on Sondheim.
  • Steve on Broadway celebrated four different milestones: 1. 4th year SOB blog anniversary, 2. Saw 200 shows on Broadway, 3. Seeing all of this season’s Broadway shows and 4. Interviewed Alicia Silverstone – his first formal thespian interview. Read here.
  • The Producer’s Perspective writes a great post about the how Broadway houses sell their house tickets. I think there needs to be a change as well. I’ve stopped buying my tickets ahead of of time because I hate all of the extra fees. They are ridiculous.
  • Stage Rush interviews the understudy, Charlotte Maier, of God of Carnage. Funny thing: my costume designer for The Wedding Singer – the show I’m directing and choreographing at my school – is Maier’s sister-in-law. Don’t forget to watch Stage Rush’s  video of Green Day showing up to the performance and playing an encore number on the night Stage Rush went to review American Idiot.

New shows that are starting previews, opening  and/or closing on Broadway in the next couple weeks:

  • 4/28/10: Collected Stories (opening)
  • 4/29/10: Everyday Rapture (opening)
  • 5/04/10: TONY AWARD NOMINATIONS
  • 6/13/10: The 64th Tony Awards
  • 8/28/10: South Pacific (closing)

Until next week…

 
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Posted by on 04/29/2010 in Broadway, News

 

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Concert Review: Audra McDonald @ SF Symphony, 4/26/10

Audra McDonald shined as she walked on to the San Francisco Symphony stage and sang her opening number, “Gorgeous” from the musical, The Apple Tree. McDonald really did look gorgeous in her bright beautiful gown. From that moment on, she had the entire audience captivated during her 2-hour concert. The combination of McDonald’s incredible vocals and the lush orchestral arrangements, played beautifully by the San Francisco Symphony, was simply stunning.

One of McDonald’s strength is choosing a wide-variety of material from different musicals and composers, ranging from standards like The Sound of Music to little gems from Anyone Can Whistle and Babes in Arms. Two of my favorites of the night were “Ribbons Down My Back” from Hello Dolly! and the lovely “Dividing Day” from Light in the Piazza. Nothing was as surprisingly beautiful as “Pure Imagination” from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. (It was her first audition song when she arrived to New York City!) It was completely breathtaking.

Honestly, the entire show was perfection — even the group sing-along to My Fair Lady’s “I Could Have Dance All Night” was genius. McDonald’s charm and engaging stage presence was felt all the way up to the last row of the balcony. She had us on the edge of our seats the entire time.

Ted Sperling’s conducting was fantastic! The San Francisco Symphony sounded magnificent and I know it was because of Sperling’s orchestrations and direction that this one-night engagement came together so perfectly. I had goose-bumps for the majority of the evening.

It was an inspiring night of music – one that will soon not be forgotten.

Thank you, Audra, for sharing yourself with us! It was perfect.

Set list for Audra McDonald’s concert with the San Francisco Symphony: (thanks to Mike R. for posting this on his site)

1. “Gorgeous” – Bock/Harnick (The Apple Tree)
2. “I Have Confidence” – Rodgers (The Sound of Music)
3. “It Might As Well Be Spring” / “Hurry! It’s Lovely Up Here” – Rodgers & Hammerstein  (State Fair) / Lerner & Lane (On A Clear Day You Can See Forever)
4. “Will He Like Me?” – Bock/Harnick (She Loves Me)
5. “Can’t Stop Talking” – Loesser (from the film Let’s Dance)
6. “Happiness Is a Thing Called Joe” – Arlen/Harburg (Cabin in the Sky)
7. “The Glamorous Life” (film version) – Sondheim (A Little Night Music)
8. “Ribbons Down My Back” – Herman (Hello Dolly)
9. “There Won’t Be Trumpets” – Sondheim (cut from Anyone Can Whistle)
Intermission

10. “The Carousel Waltz” – Rodgers (Carousel – just the orchestra)
11. “Pure Imagination” – Newley/Bricusse (Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory)
12. “A Little Bit in Love” – Bernstein/Comden & Green (Wonderful Town)
13. “I Wish I Were in Love Again” – Rodgers/Hart (Babes in Arms)
14. “Dividing Day” – Guettel (The Light in the Piazza)
15. “Moon River” – Mancini/Mercer (Breakfast at Tiffany’s)
16. “Old Maid” – Jones/Schmidt (110 in the Shade)
17. “I Could Have Danced All Night” – Lerner/Loewe (My Fair Lady)
18. “What Can You Lose” / “Not A Day Goes By” – Sondheim (Dick Tracy / Merrily We Roll Along)
19. “When Did I Fall In Love” – Bock/Harnick (Fiorello!)
Encores:
20. “10,432 Sheep” – Styne/Cahn (from the film West Point Story)
21. “Edelweiss” – Rodgers/Hammerstein (The Sound of Music)
22. “Ain’t it de Truth” – Arlen/Harburg (cut from Cabin in the Sky)
 
 

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Listening to Glee: “Home” – Season 1, Episode #16

In this week’s episode, titled “Home,” the Glee cast lifts spirits with some of music’s biggest ballads from Christina Aguleria, Burt Bacharach and more!

Watch as Kurt attempts to fix up his dad with a date in hopes of having a regular family which reminds him that “A House is Not a Home”. April Rhodes (Kristin Chenoweth) returns this week to help Will realize that there’s “One Less Bell to Answer” as she attempts to help him get over Terri and save New Directions. Sue demands that the cheerios diet in preparation for a magazine interview which ultimately leaves Amber to question if she’s “Beautiful” or not? Rounding out the episode, April, with the help of New Directions, belt out a beautiful rendition of “Home”.

Tracks from this weeks “Home” episode include:

“Home” – The Wiz
“Fire” – Bruce Springsteen
“A House is Not A Home” – Burt Bacharach
“One Less Bell to Answer/A House is Not A Home” – Burt Bacharach
“Beautiful” – Christina Aguilera

“Fire”

“One Less Bell to Answer/A House is Not a Home” (Featuring Kristin Chenoweth)

“Beautiful”

 
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Posted by on 04/27/2010 in Glee, Music

 

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Invitation: Come to a Reading of “Holmes & Watson: A Musical Mystery” @ SJ Stage, 04/26

You are cordially invited to a staged reading of Holmes and Watson: A Musical Mystery at San Jose Stage Company on Monday, April 26, 2010 at 7:30pm.

This new musical comedy features Sherlock Holmes and his faithful friend, Doctor Watson. They find themselves trapped in a locked room, and they have until the stroke of midnight to solve the fiendish Moriarty’s deadly riddle. The musical features Michael Santo* as Sherlock Holmes and Richard Farrell* as Dr. Watson. (*AEA)

This staged reading is free to the public, but donations are accepted.

Unfortunately (or fortunately – however you are looking at it), I’ll be at the San Francisco Symphony watching the glorious Audra McDonald sing! If you didn’t get tickets to that, then be sure to support San Jose Stage Company this Monday. It’s rare that you can go to a staged reading of a new musical for free in the South Bay. Take advantage of the opportunity and of course, if you do attend, let us know what you thought!

 

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Broadway News Round Up #17

Each week, The Broadway Critic will be featuring the news that you don’t want to miss! A lot has happened since we posted about Catch Me if You Can and Addams Family.

Broadway Cast Poster

  • Playbill.com is reporting, “Brian d’Arcy James, who created the role of Dan Goodman in the original Off-Broadway production of the Pulitzer Prize-winning Next to Normal at Second Stage, will return to that musical on Broadway in May.” This just gives me another reason to revisit this show the next time I’m in New York. I think I can say for everyone, “Welcome Back!”
  • Rumor Alert: “Gwyneth Paltrow and her real-life mother, Blythe Danner, are being looked at as possible replacements for Catherine Zeta-Jones and Angela Lansbury in A Little Night Music, once the pair complete their run in the Sondheim revival after the Tony Awards in June.” (Via Broadwayworld.com) This would be an amazing replacement, if in fact, Paltrow can sing. I’d definitely buy a ticket for it!
  • Theatrefan555 posted a very interesting question on Broadwayworld.com: “If you see theatre with industry comps then…” Read more about this here.
  • The reviews have come in about Girlfriend – Berkeley Rep’s new two-person musical. You can read The Broadway Critic’s review here. There is also some more chatter about this on All That Chat.
  • American Idiot opened on Broadway on 4/20 (coincidental, I doubt it) and La Cage aux Folles opened on Broadway on 4/18. Both opened to stellar reviews! Read American Idiot reviews here and La Cage aux Folles reviews here. I have a feeling, that both of these shows are front-runners at the Tony Awards for Best Musical and Best Revival even though I want Finian’s Rainbow to win.
  • Photo Call: First look at Fences on Broadway.
  • Finally, “Sondheim on Sondheim, a unique musical that is part video documentary and part starry Broadway revue, opens at Studio 54 on April 22, offering the life story of Tony Award-winning composer-lyricist Stephen Sondheim.” (via Playbill.com) Sondheim has had quite the year this year!
  • Last but not least, did anyone see a preview of Everyday Rapture yet? I’ve heard some mixed reviews on this one. Please comment and tell us what you think – inquiring minds want to know!

New shows that are starting previews and/or opening on Broadway in the next couple weeks:

  • 4/22/10: Sondheim on Sondheim (opening)
  • 4/25/10: Promises, Promises (opening)
  • 4/27/10: Enron (opening)
  • 4/28/10: Collected Stories (opening)
  • 4/29/10: Everyday Rapture (opening)
  • 5/04/10: TONY AWARD NOMINATIONS

Until next week…

 
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Posted by on 04/22/2010 in Broadway, News

 

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