Monday, April 21, 2014

Scroll down for my recent massive theater post.

I was in a Sutton Foster mood, so I had a Bunheads marathon today. I love this show so, so much; it still devastates me that it was cancelled after just one season. I got into it because of Sutton Foster and Kelly Bishop, and I didn't care much about the bunheads at first, but I grew to love them, too (especially Ginny; she was my favorite by the end, which surprised me).

There are some gorgeous dance routines in the show. Here are a few. Trust me, you can enjoy these without being familiar with the show; they're just gorgeous dance performances.

My favorite routine is from the second episode; it's Tom Waits' "Picture in a Frame." Just skip through the credits to see the routine.

And here's Sutton being a star, singing "Maybe This Time" from Cabaret.

I also love the goodbye dance video they posted after the show was cancelled. It's lovely.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Before I get into the new Broadway shows I've seen this week, did I ever write about Violet? I don't think so. I saw it awhile ago. Sutton Foster stars in it, and it's absolutely lovely. The score is gorgeous. Here's a peek at some of the music:

ETA: It's a good day for theater! The Cripple of Inishmaan opened today, and so did Violet, and both received raves from the New York Times (read on for details about The Cripple of Inishmaan). Isherwood called Violet "terrific and heart-stirring" and declared Sutton Foster's performance "career-redefining." I wholeheartedly loved both of these shows, so I'm thrilled.

One of the shows I saw this week was All the Way. I mostly wanted to see it because of Bryan Cranston. Mr. Cranston plays Lyndon B. Johnson, and I don't know how accurate his portrayal is; the men sitting behind me had actually met President Johnson multiple times and had a few minor quibbles about how Mr. Cranston's performance wasn't entirely accurate (the accent and posture were two of their complaints). Mr. Cranston, however, commands the stage and infuses the character with vigor. He's magnificent to watch. There are so many characters in the play that many of them aren't completely fleshed out. Incredibly talented actors such as Michael McKean (he's one of my favorites) and John McMartin are underused. I felt like the pacing was a bit off at times, but overall I thought this play was an interesting look at a small slice of history. I stagedoored and Mr. Cranston was very kind.

I also saw the musical A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder this week. It's a fun (and funny) show about a serial killer. Tony Award winner Jefferson Mays plays multiple characters and is as amazing as he always is. Bryce Pinkham gives a solid performance as the charming murderer. The whole cast is strong, in fact, and it's a very clever show. Right now this seems like the frontrunner for the Tony Award for Best Musical. Although I enjoyed it, I must say that if this is the frontrunner, it's a very weak year for Broadway musicals. If the brilliant off-Broadway musical Fun Home had transferred to Broadway (there were rumors about this), it would have won hands down. I also think the off-Broadway musical Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 could have beaten A Gentleman's my opinion, off-Broadway has had a very strong year in terms of musicals (and Broadway has not).

Another Broadway play from this week is The Cripple of Inishmaan. First of all, let me tell you about Martin McDonagh. He's my favorite playwright; I read or see anything I can of his. He's brilliant. Because I love his plays, I choose to ignore the fact that he now prefers film to theater (his plays are better than his films, so I wish he'd stick to plays, but I suppose I have to respect his feelings). My absolute favorite play ever is The Lieutenant of Inishmore, written by Mr. McDonagh. What I love about Mr. McDonagh is his ability to write a play so devastatingly sad it will break your heart yet so absolutely hilarious it will make you split your sides laughing. I don't know how he does it. The Cripple of Inishmaan is one of those plays; it's simultaneously so funny and so depressing. It's part of Mr. McDonagh's Aran Islands trilogy. The Aran Islands are three islands that lie off the west coast of Ireland, and there's one play for each island: The Lieutenant of Inishmore, The Cripple of Inishmaan, and The Banshees of Inisheer (which is unpublished). I've seen another production of The Cripple of Inishmaan before, but that previous experience didn't diminish the emotional experience of seeing the play performed again. Daniel Radcliffe plays the title role, and he plays it very well. The physicality is an essential element to the character (I mean, just look at the title) and Mr. Radcliffe is an incredibly convincing cripple. The whole cast is very strong. The production transferred London, and I'm so glad it did, because it really is a great production (even though I can't say it's better than the 2008 production at the Atlantic Theater). It shook me (as McDonagh's plays always do), and it's easily my favorite Broadway play of the season.
ETA: The show opened tonight and is getting wonderful reviews! Here's the New York Times review. Brantley reviewed it, and he says what I was trying to get at about the play:

"Compared with most of Mr. McDonagh’s work, “Cripple” has a fairly low violence quotient. It’s more comfortably a comedy than, say, “Beauty Queen.” But as outrageously funny as it often is, the play aches with a subliminal sadness that stays with you. The fabrications and speculations that these characters spin, in the fine old tradition of wild Irish yarns, come from an awareness that life is short and dangerous and, perhaps worst of all, empty.....
 Mr. Radcliffe’s Billy embodies the essence of this beautifully ambivalent play without dominating it, which would throw the production off balance. Despite Billy’s gnarled form, which makes even walking an agonizing process, he often registers as just one of many vivid portraits in a gallery of oddballs. But then he turns his sea-blue stare outward, and the loss and loneliness in his eyes lance right through you. 
Of course the odds are that the very next minute you’ll be chuckling away, which doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten that flash of pain. At one point Billy gravely tells his friend, the sweets-addicted Bartley (Mr. MacNeill), who has been making fun of a woman who talks to stones, “You shouldn’t laugh at other people’s misfortunes.” 
This greatly perplexes Bartley, whose answer is unrepentant: “But it’s awfully funny.” He’s right, of course. It is. This gorgeously realized production has the wisdom to let us laugh until it hurts."

I saw the off-Broadway play The Heir Apparent at Classic Stage Company, and it was fabulous. It's a hilarious show featuring Carson Elrod, Paxton Whitehead, and David Pittu, and the play is just so witty and smart. It got a rave from the New York Times that's worth a read.

Ooh, another theater-related thing: I won a backstage tour of Studio 54, which was very cool. I got a signed Playbill from Cabaret and was able to see everything that goes on backstage (believe it or not, the laundry room was very impressive). Here's the view of the house from the stage (I got to stand onstage!) and me backstage:

And finally, last theater-related thing: I organized my Playbills over spring break! I arranged them by date and put them in plastic sleeves (with my ticket for each show in each sleeve as well, visible on the back), which I put in binders. I also had to make space for the binders. It was a massive (and expensive) task, but I'm glad I worked on it. I'd rather have these accessible than have them sitting in boxes under my bed.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Four more show reviews are coming soon (maybe later tonight or maybe tomorrow), but for now, I'll share my excitement about something TV-related. Orphan Black returns tomorrow! This is one of my absolute favorite shows, so I'm thrilled. If you haven't seen it, go watch season one because it's fabulous, and get ready for season two!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

I saw The Realistic Joneses on Broadway tonight. It's got a crazy all-star cast. It features Toni Collette (Golden Globe/Emmy winner, star of Little Miss Sunshine, Muriel's Wedding, The Sixth Sense, etc.), Michael C. Hall (Golden Globe winner, star of Dexter, Six Feet Under, etc.), Tracy Letts (Tony Award-winning actor and writer, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of August: Osage County), and Marisa Tomei (Oscar winner, star of My Cousin Vinny, The Wrestler, In the Bedroom, etc.). You

Isherwood's New York Times review is a rave, and I'll just let you read an excerpt because it paints a good picture:
"Plays as funny and moving, as wonderful and weird as “The Realistic Joneses,” by Will Eno, do not appear often on Broadway. Or ever, really. You’re as likely to see a tumbleweed lolloping across 42nd Street as you are to see something as daring as Mr. Eno’s meditation on the confounding business of being alive (or not) sprouting where only repurposed movies, plays by dead people and blaring musicals tend to thrive...For all the sadness woven into its fabric, “The Realistic Joneses” brought me a pleasurable rush virtually unmatched by anything I’ve seen this season."
This is one of those slice-of-life plays, and I like that about it. It's clever and witty (I was especially impressed with Michael C. Hall's comedic skills), and it makes you think and feel without telling you what to think and feel. So I was glad to see it, and thrilled to see so many master actors onstage together.  

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I need to start writing some theater reviews, because I'm seeing a LOT of shows in the near future and I want to be able to stay caught up. So here are a couple:

1. The Library
I was really excited to see this because it's directed by Steven Soderbergh (the Oscar-winning director of Traffic, Erin Brockovich, and more) and because it stars Chloe Grace Moretz. Chloe Grace Moretz also stars in one of my favorite movies, Let Me In. If you haven't seen Let Me In, go watch it now. Stephen King called it "the best American horror film in the last 20 years," but it is so much more than a horror film. Trust me, even if you're not a fan of the genre, you'll appreciate what a fabulous movie Let Me In is. It breaks my heart (in the best way possible) just thinking about it. It's a beautiful movie. Anyway, Chloe Grace Moretz is lovely in it, and she also stars in other cool movies like Kick-Ass and Hugo. So I was very eager to see her onstage. I was also looking forward to seeing Jennifer Westfeldt. The play is about a school shooting. I had a few issues with the screenplay, but I thought the acting was fabulous. I had a front row seat, so I was able to really enjoy the actors' nuanced performances. I'm so glad I saw this. I met Ms. Moretz after the show and she couldn't have been nicer. (I'm not good at selfies; they always come out blurry.)

2. If/Then
Idina Menzel is the reason to see this. It's a great vehicle for her; the score suits her voice perfectly. I can't get over what an amazing singer she is. This new musical was created by Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, the team behind my all-time favorite musical, Next to Normal. This means I originally had high expectations for this show. Unfortunately If/Then doesn't come close to the brilliance of Next to Normal. It's not awful, but it's not as good as it could have been. Idina is fabulous, though. I was glad to see the show with my friend/show buddy Valentina.
Idina didn't stagedoor, so here's an old (bad) photo of me with her. :D

Next week is my spring break (thank goodness), and I'm seeing a TON of shows, so I'll have lots of reviews coming up.

Saturday, April 05, 2014

My new favorite video. Just in case you didn't believe me when I told you how awesome KBell is.