April 27, 2006

Reviews from the Silence

Greetings, Children! It has been awhile since my last confession. But you should feel privileged. I promised my mother a long email this past weekend and I still haven’t written it. I suppose I could give her a link to here, but I don’t feel like editing again. Eh, I’ll probably cut and paste the good parts and put it in an email. Or a letter. I mail my paychecks home because I haven’t switched banks yet (still unsure of my NYC permanence). Yes. I’ll print out a lovely letter and sign it. No, autograph it.
Anyway, I’ve heard requests about me commenting on B-way shows. And I have obliged. But let me preface this post: New York Times and Broadway.com have some much better reviews. These are very short, made-in-my-spare-time blurbs about long complicated shows. So with that in mind…

These plays appear in alphabetical order, starting with Broadway and working their way down.


Bridge & Tunnel

Sarah Jones shines in this one-woman show, playing an array of characters of countless ethnicities. Because of my love of doing voices, I really enjoyed watching her change characters and accents and personalities. As far as the show itself, I respect her because she wrote it herself, but the subject matter should have been kept Off-Broadway. Not that it was offensive; it was just repetitive. I was in the audience thinking, “So racism is… bad? OK. Lesson learned. Thank you for revealing the truth, Sarah. I think America will stop segregating busses now.” Kids’ll like it down in the village, but seriously folks, you’re across the street from Spamalot.


Elton John. Gay vampires. Sweet sassafras, this one was a crap bomb. But never have I been so entertained. Not by the show, but by the people around me. A little lesson I took from Avenue Q (which I still haven’t seen) was to relish schadenfreude. I was having a good time because my tickets were free. The people next to me spent $110 each, in which case going on their crappy date cost as much as an iPod that’s delivered without a hard drive. Disappointing? Yes. The only thing that redeemed the show at all (not really) was the performance of Carolee Carmello as the “young” Gabrielle in “I Want More.” It was still a crappy song because Elton John wrote it, but her voice was phenomenal. Then she came back to sing a second song. To illustrate the sound, you have to go on a journey with me a la Innerspace. It seemed she found her nose and then was trapped there for the duration of the song. Seriously, never has anything been so nasal. For full details, read my favorite review by the New York Times from this morning.


I list this only because I went back and saw it again on my birthday. The first time I saw it, it was truly spectacular, because the show was carried by Sara Ramirez and David Hyde Pierce. Hank Azaria is one of my favorite people in the world, but I saw someone else play Lancelot last year and they were just as good. And of course Tim Curry brought a lot of people. Anyway, they’re all gone now, and the show isn’t worth seeing anymore because all it ever amounted to was Monty Python and the Holy Grail accompanied by so-so music. But if the tickets are cheap, it promises a fun night. Sorry, Yax.

Sweeney Todd

“Attend the tale of Sweeny Todd,” are the opening lines. And from that point on, I thought “how could you not?” This is an amazing show. The revival is much different from any other production that’s been done before (i.e. no giant barber’s chair contraption that people fall into when they die), very minimalist and dark and disturbing. The orchestra is staffed by the cast itself on stage = very cool. If they’re not in a scene they’re playing an instrument, and all the actors are amazing at each of the four or five instruments they have to play. A very demanding show, what with all the stage time everyone gets, I really respect everyone who’s in it. I can’t praise it too much, though, because it’s a contender for Best Revival at the Tony’s this year against our gem Pajama Game. But I can say that this is my favorite Sondheim.

Pajama Game

Yay for Pajama Game. Completely sold out, nobody can see this show. That’s the beauty of limited runs: if you’ve got a good show, you’ve got the hottest ticket in town. I saw it three times. I can tell you, though, that it’s in its decline (as many know, I can make that call). Since it opened and the Times raved about its “steam heat” between Connick and O’Hara, they seem to have abandoned the wholesome ‘50s chemistry / tension and spend the second act basically humping each other. But Harry’s voice is one of a kind (since the rest died), Kelli is spectacular, and Joyce Chittick steals the show every time.

ThreePenny Opera

Scandalicious. Basically panned in all the major reviews, people are still flocking to this bawdy, outrageous, zany show. Watch this preview. I’ve already talked about it, so I’ll just say that in general I like it. Plus the cast members flirt with the audience before the show. Do I have stories about opening night… That’ll probably come tomorrow. With pictures!


Blue Man Group

Again, I’ve already talked about them. It’s the perfect show for our generation. Sure, kind of a lowest common denominator, but wildly entertaining.

Confessions of a Mormon Boy

Another one I’ve talked about. Good subject matter. Horribly over-acted.

Entertaining Mr. Sloane

Not as entertaining as the title may lead you to believe. Even though it’s one of our shows, I can’t bring myself to actually like it. After going to the theatre a couple of days ago I realized that the stage is actually slanted, and I have a theory that it's a source of bad acting. It’s not really enough to notice from the audience, but standing up there, it’s really distracting. The show suffered another blow last week when Alec Baldwin had an "episode" and Jan Maxwell has left the show because of it, supplying the New York Post with a lovely article as she went. I can’t find the article on line yet.

Red Light Winter

You could either go see this show or have your heart ripped out by a bear. Basically the same effect. I love entertainment that depresses me, and this has done the best job so far.


Just when I thought my band geek days were over, I saw STOMP. All of a sudden, drum line cadences were running through my head for the next several weeks. Lots of noise, lots of dancing, lots of rhythm. It appeals to an even lower common denominator than Blue Man Group. In retrospect, it was kind of dusty.


They’re Just Like Us

First of all, the website’s pretty funny. When I first saw a promotional picture I thought, “what am I getting myself into?” but looking at their site I realized that they’re parodying themselves, further making the point that their show sets out to make. It’s all about how people (especially New Yorkers) act in order to feel connected, whether it’s through fame, personal relationships, being noticed by those who pass by, or by those who will be here long after we’re dead. Crazy-good writing and an ensemble cast of shiny no-names. Plus it only seats about 30 people, above a club in the East Village. Very eclectic, cool and intimate.

Coming Soon:
Broadway: Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
Off-Off-Broadway: JZ’s show. I don’t know what it’s called

Coming Late (AKA shows I want to see):
Avenue Q
Faith Healer
25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee

The Drowsy Chaperone
Light in the Piazza
Forbidden Broadway: SVU

Comments on "Reviews from the Silence"


Blogger Yax said ... (9:00 AM) : 

No need to be sorry. I completely agree that Spamalot was carried by an amazing cast and I'm not at all surprised that it's nowhere near as good without them.

On another note, I have a special place in my heart for the Pajama Game as it was the first show I ever did tech work for. Back in seventh grade. Dang, I feel old. Anyway, I'm glad the show is popular.

Hurry up and go see 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee. I've wanted to see that for a long time, and since all my attempts to hie myself back to NYC have faltered, I must live vicariously through you.


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