Archive for the ‘MUSICAL THEATRE’ Category

“The Lion King”—touring company review   Leave a comment

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In 1997 “Disney’s The Lion King” opened on Broadway instantly making every adult a  kid with its opening number and just as it did then, and still does, the show did the same thing last night at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in Miami. Twenty-two years later, the highest grossing Broadway production of all time, as the animals from an African Savannah march down the aisles to Pride Rock on the stage to see the new lion cub, Simba, and the first song, Elton John and Tim Rice’s “Circle of Life”, transports you to a magical world.
 
With a book by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi and additional songs by Lebo M., Mark Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin and Hans Zimmer the production belongs to Julie Taymor who directed, did the costumes, masks and puppet designs along with Michael Curry and Richard Hudson who did the scenic designs. The choreographer Garth Fagan, watched over by his associate Marey Griffith, while John Stefaniuk continues as Taymor’s associate director. For those who may be unaware of what lighting can do to bring magic to the stage the design by Donald Holder shows in scenes that draws gasps from the adults and squeals of joy from the children.
 
All the dazzling production aspects of the show make it a spectacle but wouldn’t mean a thing without the 11 musicians led by conductor James Dodgson or the over 50 cast members who tell and/or sing the life story of Simba the cub. Whether as individuals or in ensemble numbers it would be unfair to say anyone was a standout as they all were.
 
Take a kid and both enjoy the magic of theatre.
 
1st act is 1 hour and 8 minutes  An intermission runs 20 minutes and the last act is 55 minutes.
 
 

Lion King cast May 9 2019

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“Waitress”–review of touring company   1 comment

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With music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles along with a book by Jessie Nelson based on the movie by Adrienne Shelly “Waitress” will be celebrating the start of its 4th year on Broadway this April.

A story about an abused waitress who finds herself pregnant doesn’t immediately shout ‘musical comedy’ but there is plenty of comedy, along with drama, in this show. Jenna ( Christine Dwyer) finds an outlet in her job at Joe’s Diner with friends Becky (Natasha Williams) and Dawn (Ephie Aardema) where she works as a waitress and a baker, in the latter job making 27 delicious pies with wicked names. As an escape from her abusive husband Earl (Matt DeAngelis) she hopes to win $20,000 in a pie contest in a nearby county.

Her OB-GYN Jim Pomater (Steven Good) is new in town and his wife is doing an internship at the local hospital. He and Jenna, though basically decent people, give in to their feelings and he betrays his wife.

We, also, meet the diner’s owner played by Richard Kline and cook played by Ryan G. Dunkin. Dawn meets Ogie (Jeremy Morse) via the Internet and they play off each other so perfectly you know there is going to be a ‘happily ever after’ for them.  By the way (Morse) singing and dancing “Never Getting Rid Of Me” is a show-stopping number the audience loves. Rheaume Crenshaw as Nurse Norma adds to the professional cast along with the ensemble and we certainly can’t forget Hailey Belle Malvin who is making her musical Broadway debut, having been discovered in Miami!

Director Diane Paulus and choreographer Lorin Latarro worked very closely together giving the cast intricate scenes that depend on split timing while scenic designer Scott Pask keeps the sets moving as the songs, dance and story goes from the diner to Jenna’s home, the doctor’s office and the hospital. Conducter Lilli Wosk, with the musicians on stage are as much a part of the ensemble as anyone on stage.

The music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles are tuneful, meaningful when need be and funny, moving the show along, telling about the characters and adding to the thin story.

The #metoo moment in the show gets an impressive reaction, deservingly, from the audience as do the performers when they take their bows.

“Waitress” is a warm, funny and moving musical that tackles a lot of problems still be faced today.

“Waitressruns 2 hours and 35 minutes with a 20-minute intermission

 

“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas”–theatre review   Leave a comment

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Last week at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts we saw “Hamilton”, a musical for the 21st century, and this week we saw “White Christmas”, a musical that represents all that made theatre-going so much fun in the 20th century, at the Adrienne Arsht Performing Center in Miami.
 
Based on a 1954 movie musical it was adapted for the stage in 2000 with the book by David Ives and Paul Blake that makes all that was corny in the film fun on the stage. There is the ‘Let’s put on a show in the barn’ gimmick along with a misunderstanding between one of the lead couples not to mention jokes like, “We fight. We don’t have sex. It’s like we are married!”, which still gets laughs.
 
It has the music of Irving Berlin, 18 songs that have become classics, including the title tune which is the biggest selling record of all time. Just as important is that it has a cast that is looking as if they are having as much fun as the audience.
 
Listen to Kerry Conte sing a sultry “Love, You Didn’t Do Right By Me” while Sean Montgomery counterpoints with “How Deep Is The Ocean”. Try not to tap your toes while Jeremy Benton and Kelly Sheehan dance and sing, along with the chorus, “I Love A Piano” and, if you are old enough, try to not think of Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly as they dance to the choreography of Randy Skinner.
 
Can you decide who does “Sisters” better first sung by Kelly Sheehan and Kerry Conte or the version by Sean Montgomery and Jeremy Benton subbing for them?
 
When the audience is invited to a sing-a-long of “White Christmas” you can tell they have been doing it under their breath because they just let it out with a sigh. When Karen Ziemba sings “Let Me Sing And I’m Happy”, those who know her, you are just waiting for her to break out dancing. More than one person had a tear in their eye during “Count Your Blessings Instead of Sheep”.
 
The final curtain call number “I’ve Got My Love To Keep Me Warm”, with costume, scenic and lighting designs in harmony along with the cast, and ‘snow’ falling on stage and in the auditorium puts everyone in that Christmas card we all want to be a part of every Christmas.
 
“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” is a gift to us all and not too late to give it to others. Get lost in a musical from yesteryear, laugh at the old jokes, sit back and watch the cast of 27 along with the 16 musicians and imagine yourself on the stage and when you get outside waiting for your car smile as a group of theatergoers start singing “White Christmas” and others join them.
 
“Irving Berlin’s White Christmas” runs 2 hours plus a 15 minute intermission.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

October 2018 Movies and Broadway Season   Leave a comment

The big theatre news is that the Broadway Across America has arrived for the 2018-2019 season starting with the 5th visit by “Phantom of the Opera” and will follow by “The King and I” in Fort Lauderdale and “Fiddler on the Roof” in Miami November 20 and, oh yes, some little show called “Hamilton”!

I am flabbergasted that an important, new, excellent movie “The Hate U Give” is not doing smash business. Come on, it is being beaten by “Venom”!!  “The Hate U Give” and the performance by Amanda Stenberg is a MUST SEE!

While “A Star Is Born” is not quite as good and entertaining as the Judy Garland version, which is considered a classic, Lady Gaga acquits herself in both the singing and acting  while Bradly Cooper makes a good directing debut.

And don’t forget the entertaining “Tea With The Dames” which is like spending time with 4 friends who tell it like it is whether talking about each others, themselves or other people in their lives!

“Jersey Boys”–touring company review   Leave a comment

 Jersey boys

“Jersey Boys” is often referred to as a ‘jukebox musical’ meaning a group of hit songs is taken, made into a story and presented on stage but this show is more than that with one of the hardest working casts on any musical stage. Sixteen actors/singers/dancers make it seem as if there are at least 50 people on stage plus each one of them is moving props on and off stage.

This is a “true” story of 4 guys from a blue-collar background in New Jersey, though technically Bob Gaudio was from Michigan, who become Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons and each one has their own truth. The facts are they brought a new sound to pop music with such tunes as “Working My Way Back To You”, “Walk Like A Man”, “Sherry”, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”, “Oh What A Night” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” among others, won Grammy awards and, to them, one of the most important awards of all, their entry into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Miguel Jarquin-Moreland as Frankie Valli, Corey Greenan as Tommy DeVito, Tommaso Antico as Bob Gaudio, and Chris Stevens as Nick Massi each take a turn at telling their truth and even though they had many personal problems when they get up to sing it is as if all is right with the world as the soaring harmonies wash the problems away, at least for a few minutes when they are lost in their songs.

Just as gifted as these four men are the cast working with, behind and in front of them including Dianna Barger, Ben Bogen, Tristen Buettel, Sean Burns, Jonathan Cable, Wade Dooley,Todd DuBail, Caitlin Leary, Keven Patrick Martin, Michelle Rombola, Jenna Nicole Schoen and Kit Treece. Nor can one forget the orchestra who give solid support to all of them.

The set is basically simple with a projection machine offering color and illustrations to the various scenes and the various tables, chairs, microphones and other props which help keep the show moving.

With the book by Marshall Brickman and Rice Elice bringing many clichés that are familiar to most of the audience they can hit a moving scene such as Frankie learning of his daughter dying or the knowledge that Tommy got into debt to both the mob and the IRS that make the audience realize these are human beings with a world away from songs.

“Jersey Boys” is an entertaining musical that had the audience on their feet swaying, clapping and some even singing along to the encore song, after their bows, of the cast singing “Oh What A Night”. The show is entertaining with a story that holds your interest and a score that will bring back many memories to many in the audience and will sound familiar to the younger members and have many dancing up the aisle as they leave.

Between “Chicago” in Miami and “Jersey Boys” in Fort Lauderdale South Florida and Broadway Across America are ending their season in high form with talent equal to any to be seen on Broadway!

“Jersey Boys” runs 2 hours and 30 minutes including a 20 minute intermission. It will be at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts until May 20th.

I’ll be seeing “Chicago” and Camil on May 8   Leave a comment

The National Touring company of Chicago will welcome Latin sensation & “Jane the Virgin” star Jaime Camil making his tour debut in the role of Billy Flynn beginning Tuesday, May 8, 2018. He will play a 1-week limited engagement at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County until Sunday, May 13th.

Tickets to CHICAGO are available through the Arsht Center Box Office in person at 1300 Biscayne Blvd. Miami, FL 33132, by calling 305.949.6722, or online at arshtcenter.org.

Look for my review May 8th or 9th

Posted April 25, 2018 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MUSICAL THEATRE, Uncategorized

The Fort Lauderdale Broadway Across America 2018-2019 season   Leave a comment






Posted January 27, 2018 by greatmartin in MUSICAL THEATRE, THEATRE, Uncategorized

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