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Theatre Review: “American Idiot” Tour @ San Francisco’s Orpheum Theatre, 06/13/12

It’s been almost three years since American Idiot started previews at Berkeley Rep, and since then I’ve seen the show six times. I saw it once in previews at Berkeley Rep, three more times after it opened at Berkeley Rep, once on Broadway at the St. James Theatre, and now the first national tour at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco.

I saw the humble beginnings that led to many revisions at Berkeley Rep, the updated and “final” product when it landed on Broadway, and now the cleaner/fresher tour production. I still stand 100% behind my first review of the show.

That being said, I do have a few new thoughts about this particular production.

In its infancy the show felt (and I’m pretty sure was) full of raw, kinetic energy that was built by the amazing Berkeley Rep cast. The movements, the feelings, the vocal stylings were all original and 100% heartfelt. Now, the show has fully realized this energy but has crafted it into a slick product. Now I’m not totally sure if this is a bad or good thing.

A few positives: the cast’s vocals in all of the ensemble work was absolutely incredible. It was the best sung version I’ve ever heard — spot on. The musical director is cracking the whip! I understood more words than ever before which made the plot even clearer. The choreography was more precise and equally as effective as the vocal work. It definitely felt “choreographed”, instead of hap-hazard movements (which in earlier productions it did). The character development of all the main characters were also fully realized.

The direction, by Michael Mayer, was the best yet. The one thing you can say about Michael Mayer is he isn’t afraid of change and updates/revisions when needed. Few shows that go out on tour get a fresh look or new revisions, and Mayer definitely had a hand in updating the show again so that the touring audiences would connect even further with this piece. My hats off to Mayer.

Now the negatives: Before it felt like they were playing “themselves” (which in this show is a “good” thing), but now it felt forced in some of the characters and less authentic in that “punk-rock” sensibility. It felt less genuine than the original production. The costumes have also significantly changed from the Broadway version to the tour. To be honest, I didn’t see any of the “old” pieces in all of the grunge wear and in effect, it felt forced instead of original. The costumes’ color palate changed quite a bit, and again affected the overall “authenticity” of the piece. It looked more presentable, but in turn, changed the attitude of the piece.

The cast of “American Idiot” on opening night

Van Hughes, as Johnny, was leaps and bounds better than John Gallagher Jr. Hughes was able to create a character that delved into the dark, secretive life of drug abuse that was incredibly honest. Gallagher was completely self-indulgent throughout the show which kept Johnny less likable. This little change created such a different feel to the entire show just because the portrayal of Johnny was different. I was able to connect with the character on a whole new level, even though my life experiences and choices are extremely different than Johnny’s.

The overarching thematic material about twenty-somethings coming of age in this past decade rang true in American Idiot. But it didn’t ring true for everyone.

I definitely overheard an older women state as she walked out of the theatre during the awesome encore saying, “So much self-pity. It’s pathetic.” It’s actually not that surprising because sometimes when I see RENT, I want to scream, “Get a job!”. I guess it’s all a manner of opinion and taste, but it doesn’t diminish the fact that the story that’s being told is interesting and relevant, especially to the youth of today.

It’s nice that the cast of American Idiot was able to get a “welcome home” of sorts at its opening night in San Francisco. It’s been quite the journey for this production and everyone involved should feel extremely proud of all of its accomplishments. It’s been incredible to follow this production from the very beginning to now and I feel privileged to have done so. This production broke so many normal “theatre etiquettes” and that’s the main reason I love it. It changed the face of American musical theatre and that’s what needs to continue happening to grab the attention of a younger audience.

It grabbed my attention and I have a feeling it will grab yours as well.

As I said before, I hella heart American Idiot.

 
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Posted by on 06/15/2012 in Broadway

 

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Top 10 Best Plays/Musicals of 2010

Disclaimer: I didn’t see every play and musical in the Bay Area or on Broadway, so unfortunately this isn’t a comprehensive list. I did see over 60 productions this year and saw a wide variety of plays and musicals at most of the Bay Area Theatre companies and several in Las Vegas, London and New York City.

There are still a few main companies that I’m missing in the Bay Area, but planning on reviewing next year (most notably, ACT in San Francisco). I’m excluding two productions that I was a part of: RENT at City Lights Theatre Company and Smokey Joe’s Cafe at Bus Barn Stage Company — they were both fantastic productions, but would be totally biased if included.

These 10 plays/musicals were my favorite productions that I saw in 2010. (You can see the list of all of the shows I saw, here.)  The Bay Area has had many success stories this past year, from Theatrework’s production of Memphis that won the Tony Award for Best Musical and Berkeley Rep transferring Green Day’s American Idiot (which also won two Tony Awards). The Bay Area Theatre community is definitely representing well but here’s a list of my favorites of 2010 that includes the Bay Area, Las Vegas, New York City and London!

Congratulations and I can’t wait to see what’s in store for next year! I’m hearing that some of my favorite shows are going to be produced right here in the Bay Area.

Number 10:

Rain at Broadway San Jose: Broadway San Jose has brought a lot of fun productions this year to San Jose. They started off the year with the super high-spirited shows, Avenue Q and Legally Blonde. In September, their second season started off with a bang, with the sizzling show, Burn the Floor (which I surprisingly loved). But, my favorite, so far this year, was Rain: A Tribute to the Beatles. I said in my review, “Rain: A Tribue to the Beatles does an incredible job of grabbing everyone’s attention and giving them a show that’s instantly likable at any age.”

I had more fun at this performance, (which technically seemed more like a concert than a “musical”) than I ever expected to have, plus I was able to hear some of my favorite Beatles’ songs performed live. 100% recommended.

Read the full review, here.

Number 9:

In the Heights at Curran Theatre (SHNSF – touring production): Out of all of the touring productions that SHNSF brought to San Francisco, In the Heights was by far the best one. There was Fiddler on the Roof, Young Frankenstein (which I missed), Beauty and the Beast, West Side StoryShrek and of course, the San Francisco cast of Wicked which sadly closed at the beginning of September. Here’s an excerpt of my review of In the Heights:

I never expected to love it as much as I do, but it’s infectious rhythms and beautiful melodies accompanied with a story that has more heart than most Broadway musicals makes for an electrifying evening of theatre. I might just have to go back and see this again. It’s that good.

I’m sad that In the Heights is closing on Broadway in January, but happy I had the experience of seeing this incredible show.

Read the full review, here.

Number 8:

Ain’t Misbehavin’ at San Jose Repertory Theatre: For my first introduction to this fantastic show, San Jose Rep’s production was Broadway-caliber. I thought the performers were incredibly talented and the overall production was one of the best shows I’ve seen at SJ Rep. I really enjoyed several productions at SJ Rep this year and Black Pearl Sings was another favorite, but Ain’t Misbehavin’ had an energy that was totally infectious.

I think the entire audience was ready to dance and clap at the end because all of us leapt to our feet during the closing song!

I couldn’t be more thrilled that this was my first introduction to Ain’t Misbehavin’! It’s a perfect treat!

Read the full review, here.

Number 7:

San Francisco SymphonyAudra McDonald & Duncan Sheik/Holly Brook: San Francisco Symphony is creative and innovative with their programming choices. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the two programs that I saw at SF Symphony this year, because they were excellent. Audra McDonald’s performance was genius (per usual). McDonald’s voice accompanied by the SF Symphony was absolutely breathtaking. This is a night I won’t soon forget. The other show I saw was Duncan Sheik’s symphonic arrangement of his newest musical, Whisper House. The beautiful arrangements added so much texture and layers to his already haunting score. I just wished it was a longer concert. (It was great to see Duncan Sheik in concert while I was visiting Glasgow.) Well done SF Symphony.

Read the full review of Audra McDonald, here.

Read the full review of Duncan Sheik/Holly Brook, here.

Number 6:

Musical Love Never Dies at Aldephi Theatre (London): With all of the negative press that has been surrounded by Love Never Dies I was pleasantly surprised how much I enjoyed myself. I’ve never been too partial to Phantom of the Opera (though I do love the shortened Vegas production), but I was absolutely intrigued by the beautiful set, costumes and world that Andrew Lloyd Weber has created at the Aldephi Theatre. I was enraptured the entire time (and I had the worst seats ever). I’m seeing this production again on New Year’s Day and am looking forward to seeing the changes that they have made to the plot/story-line, but  the melodramatic story accompanied the music perfectly. It’s a spectacle and one that you shouldn’t miss. It was my favorite show I saw in London.

Read the full review, here.

Number 5:

Jersey Boys at The Palazzo (Las Vegas): For some reason, I avoided Jersey Boys like it was the plague. I had no interest in seeing this musical, even though it won the Tony Award for Best Musical. But on my Las Vegas Broadway Vacation, I saw The Lion King, Phantom and Jersey Boys and both the missus and I absolutely loved Jersey Boys. Here’s an excerpt from my review:

The Las Vegas production of Jersey Boys is so engaging that even someone who has never cared to acquaint themselves with the music and story of The Four Seasons (like myself) cannot escape being sucked into this world.

Read the full review, here.

Number 4:

Compulsion at Berkeley Rep: This particular play will be in New York City (with the same cast) in the Spring and you won’t want to miss this heart-breaking play. The interweaving of puppets, matched with Mandy Patinkin’s intensity makes this play one of the best things I saw this year!

Berkeley Rep is known for producing first-rate theatre, but out of everything that I saw this year at Berkeley Rep, Compulsion was the best. It’s remarkable.

Read the full review, here.

Number 3:

Tie between American Idiot and Next to Normal on Broadway: The reasons behind the tie is that I have seen both of these productions before. I saw American Idiot four times at Berkeley Rep and Next to Normal four times on Broadway (all with Alice Ripley). This was the first time I saw American Idiot on Broadway and the first time I saw Next to Normal without Alice Ripley. Out of all of the new shows I saw on Broadway that weekend, these two shows still resonated with me the most.

I can’t get enough of either show. I rarely see a show multiple times, and both of these shows I have now seen five times. If you haven’t seen either, than I suggest running to theatre and grabbing tickets! I’ll be seeing both of these shows in the new year – American Idiot again on Broadway with Billie Jo Armstrong as St. Jimmy and Next to Normal on tour in San Francisco with Alice Ripley.

Read the full review of American Idiot, here.

Number 2:

Broadway Cast Poster Closing night of Finian’s Rainbow at St. James Theatre: On a whim, I saw the closing night of Finian’s Rainbow. It was one of the most emotional nights of theatre I have ever witnessed. Here’s an excerpt of the review:

Song after song, scene after scene, it just kept getting better and better. It ended with a beautiful rainbow as they sung, “How are Things in Glocca Morra?” The audience leapt to their feet, tears in their eyes and gave a rousing standing ovation unlike any standing ovation I’ve ever seen in theatre. What a special show, night and cast.

It’s truly a travesty that this show closed so early, but it’s a gift that will never be forgotten. The magic of the rainbow is far but over.

Read the full review of Finian’s Rainbow, here.

Number 1:

Whisper House at Old Globe Theatre (San Diego): This is a musical that has stayed with me all year. Time after time, I’m thinking about this show, listening to the music and recounting the experience to friends and family. “Duncan Sheik and Kyle Jarrow’s new musical, Whisper House, carefully crafts a new style of story-telling that is powerful, unique and riveting.” I love that Sheik and Jarrow upset the “standard musical comedy” with a different way to present a musical. It tells me that there is a future in this craft and that people are still willing to make huge strides in storytelling in musical theatre instead of adapting movies into musicals (over and over).

I absolutely loved Whisper House and I will go and see it anywhere in the country. I wouldn’t miss it for anything.

Read the full review of Whisper House, here.

HONORABLE MENTIONS:

 

 

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What to Expect on Broadway in January 2011

What to expect on Broadway in January 2011? There is one thing for sure – not a lot.

For the second year in a row, I’ll be in New York City during the 3rd weekend of January and both visits will be right after the mass closings on Broadway at the beginning of the new year. It’s when Broadway becomes a ginormous unemployment line. It’s going to be dismal this upcoming January.  From big Tony Award winning hits like In the Heights to Christmas fare like Elf and last season’s hits: Promises, Promises, A Little Night Music and Fela! all seem to be getting the axe. Now, two new musicals this season are closing: The Scottsboro Boys and Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson.

What will be worth your time?

Spiderman: Turn off the DarkThis is on top of my list to see in January. It’s the first new musical opening on January 11th and it will be after a six-week preview time. A guest writer, Sean O’Conner, talked about his experience at the first preview on The Broadway Critic. He concluded, “The real reason to attend Spider Man: Turn Off the Dark is to witness the magical and original stage craft, but we all already knew that. The flying sequences are truly remarkable. I imagine the spectacle will be enough to get an audience in building. The sets by George Tsypin and costumes by Eiko Ishioka are the stuff of theatre legend. You can see the money on the stage and it will take your breath away. Taymor has done nothing but turn her ultimate dreams into reality, and for that she deserves our respect and praise. Well done Julie!”

Website | Get Tickets

American IdiotAmerican Idiot didn’t win the Tony Award for Best Musical, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t see this show! It did win the Tony Award for the lighting and set design (which were well-deserved). I saw it four times at Berkeley Rep in it’s out-of-town try-out and I can tell you it will blow your mind. It was the musical that actually inspired me to start this website.

“Finally, someone has come along and given musical theatre the electro shock therapy it has needed for so long. While Tom Kitt’s newest musical, Next to Normal, deals directly with the affects of electro shock therapy, American Idiot is electro shock therapy for the audience. It screams independence and acceptance in a way that is nothing short of brilliant.” You can read the full review here.

Here is my latest review of American Idiot when I saw it on Broadway on 10/10/10. The best part is that Billie Joe Armstrong is coming back to play St. Jimmy for 50 performances between the beginning of January to the end of February. Luckily enough, I’ll be at there on one of the weekend’s he is performing. I can’t wait!

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La Cage aux Folles at Longacre Theatre: First off, you have to congratulate La Cage aux Folles for being the first musical in history to win “Best Musical” or “Best Musical Revival” three times! Talk about a huge triumph and making musical theatre history! The Menier Chocolate Factory’s acclaimed revival hits the Broadway stage, starring Douglas Hodge (Olivier Award and Tony Award) as Albin, a drag performer with a heart of gold, and Kelsey Grammer as his partner Georges. They are only contracted to stay in the show until February. (Make sure you see them now!)

I haven’t seen this production yet, but from what I’ve heard, you don’t want to miss it – the Cagelles are worth the price of admission. (Did you see them on the Tony Awards? Talk about fierce!)

WebsiteTickets

Honorable Mention:

  • The Addams Family at Lunt-Fontanne Theatre – You’ll probably have a little while to see this show. They just announced that Roger Rees will be taking over for Gomez (Nathan Lane). Last week they were at 91% capacity. Critics be damned with this show!
  • Memphis at Sam S. Schubert Theatre – Here’s a show I didn’t particularly enjoy. I thought the book was terrible and the music was so-so. It won the Tony Award for Best Musical. It probably will be on Broadway for awhile; it’s going strong.
  • Million Dollar Quartet at Nederlander Theatre – This show I’m surprised that it’s still playing. I thought it was going to close at the end of summer. It’s only playing 51.7% capacity last week, so I wonder how long it can sustain without a huge profit margin. It probably has an extremely low running cost, but still, with the new London production opening in February 2011, I won’t be surprised to hear about Million Dollar Quartet‘s closing notice soon.

Broadway Standards:

  • Billy Elliot at Imperial Theatre – Not a fan. I saw it twice – the little kids just don’t do it for me — plus that damn set, particularly the bed. I can’t stand it. 2 out of 5 stars
  • Chicago at Ambassador Theatre – Great show, with sizzling music and an even better plot. Must see. 5 out of 5 stars
  • Jersey Boys at August Wilson Theatre – I saw this in Las Vegas and absolutely loved it. Great show for a family with teenagers. 5 out of 5 stars
  • Mamma Mia at The Winter Garden Theatre – I’ve never seen this. Thoughts?
  • Mary Poppins at New Amsterdam Theatre – A childhood dream come true; I absolutely loved the choreography. Good for kids (ages 6-adult). 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • The Lion King at Minskoff Theatre – Another show I saw in Las Vegas and never on Broadway. I loved it. Fantastic imagery — might be a little long for ages 3-7. 4 out of 5 stars
  • The Phantom of the Opera at Majestic Theatre – I loved the Las Vegas production, but never seen the Broadway version. It’s a staple.
  • Rock of Ages at Brooks Atkinson Theatre – Try to win the lotto on this one. It’s an rockin’ 80’s show that is good for a laugh or two. 3 out of 5 stars
  • Wicked at Gershwin Theatre – It’s still selling out after seven years. 4 out of 5 stars

Two Plays:

  • Time Stands Still at Cort Theatre – I saw this on a whim, last January, and loved it. Here’s my review. Closing, January 30th, 2011
  • Lombardi at Circle in the Square Theatre – I’ve heard really great things about this play and I think it definitely has some staying power until at least the Tony Awards in June.

What will you be seeing in January?

 
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Posted by on 12/01/2010 in Broadway

 

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Theatre Review: “American Idiot” @ St. James Theatre, 10/10/10

It’s been almost a year since I last saw American Idiot closing weekend at it’s out-of-town tryout at Berkeley Rep. (I wrote seeing American Idiot four times at Berkeley Rep here.) Basically, I’ve been hooked since I saw it’s first preview back in September 2009. The kinetic energy of the cast was mind blowing. I knew that the material would land on Broadway and now it has and I finally got a chance to see it.

I’m still 100% behind my original review of American Idiot. Some shows don’t stand the test of time, but this one does. Here’s an excerpt from my original review:

Finally, someone has come along and given musical theatre the electro shock therapy it has needed for so long. While Tom Kitt’s newest musical, Next to Normal, deals directly with the affects of electro shock therapy, American Idiot is electro shock therapy for the audience. It screams independence and acceptance in a way that is nothing short of brilliant.

What I thought was most interesting was the fact that the plot was even clearer than it was at Berkeley Rep. I’m not sure why everyone in the Broadway community was complaining about this. They added a few lines, created new projections, costumes and added props that gave more depth to the story and its characters. Johnny’s dialogue became “written postcards” that Will received as he stayed home from the crazy adventure to take care of his newly born baby. They even added a figurative jail cell when Johnny decides to work for “the man”.  All of these changes made the story clearer and it was obvious the whole vision was streamlined and less chaotic than when it was is its infancy.

I still feel strongly that American Idiot was robbed at the Tony Awards. There’s no doubt that Michael Mayer should have received a nomination for Best Director. (He did, in fact, win the 2010 Drama Desk Award for Best Director.) Also, Stephen Hoggett should have been nominated for choreography. It’s inventive, interesting and very powerful. Then, of course, Tony Vincent and Stark Sands should have been nominated as well.

I think the Tony Awards gave American Idiot the finger and not for any real reason, expect maybe it was just too loud for the Tony voters’ hearing aids.

I do think Billie Joe Armstrong and the producers made one pivotal mistake: Billie Joe should have played St. Jimmy when they transferred to Broadway. If he would have been on a 3 or 6-month contract and opened the show as St. Jimmy, I think American Idiot would have been the hottest thing on Broadway this summer. Plus, I think Billie Joe would have been nominated and won a Tony Award. It would have changed the whole buzz of the show.

Overall, after performing this show for over a year, the cast still gives 150% in their performance. The St. James Theatre is probably twice the size of Berkeley Rep (maybe 3x the size) and I felt the cast’s energy in the back of the orchestra. I would have preferred seeing the show in a smaller space again, but it had no problem filling the space with passion and spark. (The sound designer did a brilliant job!)

I do think this piece speaks volumes to the younger generation, but it’s still equally accessible to everyone. I’m just happy I got to be a part of American Idiot’s journey to Broadway through the eyes of the audience. It’s been one hellavu ride.

I hella heart American Idiot.

 

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My “American Idiot” Drama

Here’s some backstory:

I first heard about American Idiot back in April or May 2009 when Berkeley Rep announced their season. I was pumped. I knew I had to see it. With all of the talented names attached to the project, I was assured that this show could be a hit.

The 1st time:

I bought my tickets to see the show on September 8th, 2009 – one of the first previews. We sat in the third tier (overlooking the stage) in the right-box seats. During the whole show I just wanted to jump out of my seat. It was electrifying to see that much energy on the stage. I didn’t fully understood what I saw (story-wise) but I absolutely fell in love with it. I remember commenting to the missus that, “This show has Broadway written all over it.” I had a feeling that this show had a much bigger life than Berkeley Rep. The missus didn’t connect with the show as much as I did, but she still really enjoyed it.

The minute I got home, I bought tickets to what was then, the closing night – November 1, 2009. Unfortunately (and fortunately) they extended the run to the third week of November. Mainly, I wanted to see the journey of the piece from the beginning (previews) to closing night. The next day, I was talking the show up with my co-workers and I told her that I would go with her as well.

The 2nd time: (Kind of)

October 14th 2009. My co-worker and I left at 3:30pm to get to Berkeley to have a nice relaxing dinner and catch the 7:30pm curtain. It was suppose to be a relaxing afternoon but we ended up in a 4-hour traffic nightmare. Everything was going fine, until we missed the turn-off to continue on the freeway going North to Berkeley. Instead we got on the San Francisco Bay Bridge exit. Normally that would have been a $5.00 toll and 15 minute out-of-the-way experience — not this time! We literally sat in traffic for four hours because a Safeway big-rig flipped over and was blocking all of the lanes – plus there were groceries everywhere. This traffic jam was the single worst traffic jam I’ve ever been in. At around 6:30pm, I called Berkeley Rep and told them the situation and unfortunately they told us they couldn’t do anything for us. We were so upset. Still stuck in traffic at around 7:00pm, we almost wet ourselves. We literally ran across six lanes of traffic and peed in the bushes – talk about a frustrating and humbling experience. We finally got over the bridge, ate dinner in San Francisco and drove back home. The night was a total bust.

The next morning, I emailed the the box office and told them what had happened. Graciously (and because it was all over the news!) she offered us two stools next to the sound booth in the back for the following week. We took them.

The 2nd time: (For real)

October 22nd, 2009. My co-worker and I again left at around 4:00pm to get to Berkeley on time and hopefully, this time, take the right exit. We did! No problem. For dinner, I suggested this hip Vegan restaurant, Cafe Gratitude. I don’t get a chance to have Vegan food very often and I figured if we were in Berkeley we might as well eat like the locals. Cafe Gratitude turned into Cafe Nightmare, but only for my co-worker. The entree I got was fantastic – overpriced, but fantastic. You can read my co-worker’s experience on Yelp. It’s quite humorous.

On the way back, I realized I had lost the tickets that I picked up before dinner. So, I had to go back to the box office, explain what happened, and they re-issued the tickets. Frankly, I was thinking the show was cursed or something. Well, it turned out that it was. My co-worker spent most of the show in the bathroom. Apparently, Cafe Gratitude’s vegan raw burger sent her system into a Master Cleanse during the show. After all of that, she missed it. I saw the entire show though and again, loved it. The perspective from the back of the house was so different. I saw so many new things that I never saw the first time and the book had changed. It was much stronger this time and you knew exactly who the characters were from the very beginning.

The 3rd time:

November 1st, 2009. This was suppose to be closing night but Berkeley Rep has already extended the run twice well into the third week of November. This show we sat in the orchestra, house right. The missus came to this performance with me.

We both felt the story was stronger. The initial reviews talked heavily about the fact there was no plot, so Michael Meyer and Billy Joe focused on making changes that made the story clearer. There was more dialogue and introduction to the characters (especially at the beginning). It was a totally sold-out performance!

I came home inspired. This is the performance that inspired me to create The Broadway Critic. I had been thinking about it for awhile, but I had to write my thoughts down about American Idiot.

American Idiot - The Broadway Critic’s review

The 4th time:

The last time I saw American Idiot was on Thursday, November 12, 2009. I scored front-row tickets; I was so excited! This time I took another co-worker with me.

The journey that American Idiot took from first preview to closing night was quite exceptional. Everything, from the choreography to vocal arrangements to plot changes, was tightened and focused. It was exactly what American Idiot needed to do in their out-of-town tryout. The show was even different from when I had seen it on the 1st. There were new songs, costumes (basically John Gallagher Jr. stays in his underwear for a good ten minutes), and the story seemed even clearer. That might be because I had now seen the show 4 times, but overall, the performers seemed to find the journey and arc of the story better.

I knew it was going to transfer to Broadway. I knew it.

The Journey to Broadway:

When I found out it was coming to Broadway, I knew I had to be there to see it. I wanted to see the updates and changes they had made from Berkeley Rep to Broadway. Also, there were a few cast changes that I wanted to check out. I booked an entire trip around my Spring Break to come out to New York City to see it and a bunch of other shows. For medical reasons, I wasn’t able to visit New York City. Instead, I stayed home in bed for most of the week. American Idiot opened to generally mixed reviews.

Then in August there was the infamous scare that American Idiot was closing. The news moved like wildfire. Fortunately, the producers decided to keep American Idiot open. I’ve been saying a prayer that it would stay open till October – my next trip to NYC. (Read all about of the drama, here.)

It has stayed open. While, I won’t be able to see Billy Joe perform on Broadway (he performed St. Jimmy all last week), I’m still so excited to finally get a chance to see American Idiot on Broadway this weekend. It kind of feels like my baby.

It’s been almost a year since I saw the show last. Let’s hope that I love it just the same…

 

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AIBway – The Twitter Drama…. love, betrayal and gossip

There’s a new show in town: AIBway – The Twitter Drama but you have to be on Twitter to follow this musical. Okay, okay, so it’s really not a new musical, but two of my friends on twitter, Tyler and Linda brought up how all of the surrounding drama about American Idiot on Twitter could be great material for a new show opening up at the NYMF in 2011. Don’t you think? It’s definitely filled with some great drama! If you missed the over-the-weekend drama, then you missed Aspen Vincent (an actress in American Idiot) chewing out John Gallagher Jr. and asking him to “apologize to people that were hoping to see you. But don’t apologize for the quality of the show while you’re gone. Uncool.” He did apologize and said, “American Idiot has the most talented group of swings/understudies I have ever seen in my life and they never ever fail to deliver.” He continued, “And I would never suggest that the quality of our show would suffer merely because of my absence. It is worlds bigger than any one person. And you will not once hear me talk ill or slanderously about any of my brilliant castmates.” Wow. Drama.

Then there was yesterday, when I posted “Now I’m hearing that @AmericanIdiotNY might be closing this Sunday and the official word will go out tomorrow. This SUCKS!” A few minutes later, I was updated further and wrote, “New update: Producers are discussing right now as when AI is closing – still up for debate, though it looks like sometime in August?” Then the news spread like wild fire. I had no idea that it would be that fast, nor at the quantity that it did. I spent most of the day, talking to people about it on Twitter and reading about it on the message boards.

Some people were pissed, others agreed, but I did get some interesting reactions. Here’s a few that were most interesting.

Reaction #1:

People were surprised and upset because they had plans to see it at a later date. I’m one of those people. Last week, I posted that during my October Broadway Vacation I was going to see American Idiot. People from around the world tweeted me and told me how disappointed they were. Caitlin, one of my followers, wrote and said, “That’s what my trip in October is/was for. Which is why this is not okay.” Several others mentioned the same thing.

Reaction #2:

Jonathan Mandell (@NewYorkTheater) wrote, “Here’s my policy: I won’t spread rumors (even reliable rumors) of a Broadway show’s imminent announcement that it’s closing. It’s not fair.” A lot of people were mad at me that I started a rumor about American Idiot. I get it. But, this particular source has never gotten it wrong. (I had posted about Alice Ripley’s departure in Next to Normal to go on with the tour months before it was announced.) I still think the rumor was substantiated even if they don’t post a closing notice this week. I know the producers were in talks about it yesterday, regardless of the outcome.

Reaction #3:

After a few hours, @AmericanIdiotNY (the official American Idiot twitter) confirmed that the show wasn’t closing and that they are rocking the St. James every night! Kevin Daly wrote and said, “I vividly remember Ragtime’s campaign against closing rumors… only to announce that date as their closing.” He then continued, “Had folks telling me they would have seen it (Ragtime) but it had closed – while it was still running!!” While, I’m thinking that those people were a bit uneducated, I could see the confusion, especially if they don’t read Playbill or keep up with their Broadway news.

Reaction #4:

Howard Sherman, the executive director of American Theatre Wing, tweeted me and said, “I’m not impugning you or your sources, but worry that people’s desire for scoops may create self-fulfilling prophecies.” Yes, I know, it was a huge scoop, but again, it came from my extremely reliable source. And let’s get it on the record, that I don’t want American Idiot to close. Frankly, I just wanted to tell some of my followers to go see the show this week, just in case it does post a closing notice. In a matter of minutes the story took a life of it’s own. I never would have guessed that it would have done so in that way. The internet baffles me that way – you never know what’s going to happen. But lesson learned.

At the show last night:

Apparently, the show was packed last night. Aspen Vincent tweeted about how she couldn’t find a seat to watch the show. She mentioned this morning that she, “Still can’t believe how packed the audience was last night! Seemed to be a lot of general “hubbub” all over the place though…a bit strange.” From what I heard, it was a great show – John Gallagher Jr. was back in, as well as Tony Vincent. Stark Sands was out though his understudy, Van Hughes was great as well.

Current News:

I’ll keep this updated, as much as possible, but this is what I heard and tweeted this morning, “No news is good news!!! Haven’t heard anything further except the producers were pumped about the attendance to last night’s show!” I sincerely hope that this show stays open. I want to see it when I come to New York City this October. I saw it four times while it was at Berkeley Rep and I loved every minute of it. American Idiot really was the reason I started this blog in the first place. It inspired me to write about my experience so I would never forget it. Since I heard it was opening at the St. James, I was always a bit weary that the house was a bit big for the production. I personally thought they should have taken over the Nederlander Theatre which would have been a great space for it, but logistically I don’t think they could have. I hope that the producers see the passion behind the “Idiots” and keep the show open. It needs to; there’s a real message there (even if the Tony voters didn’t understand it) and frankly, musical theatre needs the jump-start that American Idiot so shamelessly gives it.

Past Blog Posts on American Idiot:

Theatre Review: American Idiot @ Berkeley Rep, November 1, 2009

The New Version of “21 Guns” featuring Matt Caplan, Michael Esper and John Gallagher, Jr.

 
11 Comments

Posted by on 08/03/2010 in Broadway, News

 

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The October Broadway Vacation

After a long discussion with Delta, I finally secured my very inexpensive tickets from San Jose to New York City for October. I had tickets this past Spring to New York City, but an unexpected health issue arose and I wasn’t able to make it. Luckily, (or unluckily) I was hospitalized and because of that I was able to keep my unused Delta tickets without any fare change fees. I still have $200 left (maybe another quick get away this Winter when more shows have opened).

While, I’m not totally certain of my itinerary, these are the shows that I would like to see if I can score tickets to all of them.

MUST SEE:

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown @ Belasco Theatre - With the cast they announced this week – Patti LuPone, Brian Stokes Mitchell and Sherie Rene Scott – I will not miss this one. Currently, it’s only slated to run until January 23rd, 2011, so you don’t want to miss this one. Plus, I love Yazbek!

From Playbill.com: “In Madrid, the intertwining lives of a group of women with relationship issues lead to a tumultuous 48 hours of love, confusion and passion.”

The Scottsboro Boys @ Lyceum Theatre: This started Off-Broadway to great reviews. I’m really interested in seeing this one! I hope it lives up to all of the hype. I’m going to try to see the first preview.

From Playbill.com: “In rural Alabama in 1931, nine young African-American males are arrested and tried for a crime involving two white women. Performed as a minstrel show, the musical gives voice to the persistent theme of justice in America.”

Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson @Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre: An emo-rock musical? Yes, please. I’m there. Yet, another brand new musical, that’s transferring from Off-Broadway that I will not miss.

From Playbill.com: “Rock star Andrew Jackson (also our seventh president) encores after busting up the Public Theater last season. Starring the charismatic Benjamin Walker.”

WANT TO SEE REALLY BAD:

Playbill Cover

A Little Night Music – Walter Kerr Theatre: So I missed the Tony Award winning actress, Catherine Zeta-Jones and the incredible Angela Lansbury, but now, I get to see Bernadette Peters and Elaine Strich. I’m also really excited to see this particular production of A Little Night Music as I’ve never seen the show before.

La Cage Aux Folles – Longacre Theatre – Everyone has been talking about this production for a long time it seems – first in London and then on Broadway. All I’ve seen is great reviews from everyone.  I’ve never seen La Cage Aux Folles so it’s the perfect time for me to check out this revival.

SUNDAY EVENING:

Next to Normal @ Booth Theatre: It’s a no brianer that I would pick this show to see on Sunday evening when the only other options are Billy Elliot and Rock of Ages. I’m very excited to see the new cast. Of course, I’ll miss Alice Ripley and the rest of the original cast but I’m also excited to see the differences the new cast brings to the show.

MONDAY EVENING:

American Idiot @ St. James Theatre: I saw this show three times in it’s own-of-town tryout at the Berkeley Rep. I absolutely loved it. It’s energy was so infectious that I had to keep coming back for more. I’m really interested in seeing all of the changes and see Stark Sands perform (whom I hear great things about)! Also, there’s no other shows on Monday night that I even remotely want to see!

DEPENDING ON SCHEDULING:

Promises, Promises @ Broadway Theatre: If for some reason I can’t get into any of the above shows, then this show is the next one I really want to see. I would love to see Sean Hayes and Kristen Chenoweth in this, but I’m not dying to see it. It’s a great alternative and if I stayed one more day (or if they had a Sunday or Monday evening show), I’d be there.

The Addams Family @ Lunt-Fontanne Theatre: I’m not really a huge Addams Family fan, so I’m not dying to see this. I think it would be kinda cool to see Nathan Lane perform, because I’ve never seen him live, but there’s too many other shows that I want to see before this one. Again, if it performed on Sunday or Monday evening, I might be there.

NOT TO MISS: (Still deciding)

I just realized that I’ll be in town during the New York Musical Theatre Festival 2010. I know, one thing for sure, that I’ll be seeing Anthony Rapp’s “Without You”. I hope to see a few others as well depending on schedules.

Without You: Anthony Rapp presents his turbulent journey through the convergence of two life-changing events: the early days of Rent – including the untimely passing of Jonathan Larson – and the illness and death of his own mother. Based on his New York Times best-selling memoir, Rapp uses a mix of original music and songs by R.E.M. and Larson in a stunning one-man show about grief, hope, and triumph.

What are your thoughts? Any shows that I’m missing? What shows would you see? Let me know what you think!

 
6 Comments

Posted by on 07/29/2010 in Broadway

 

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