“Love Never Dies”–a touring company review   Leave a comment

In January 2018 “The Phantom of the Opera” will start its 30thyear playing to sold out crowds on Broadway and in February 2018 it will celebrate its 27th year as the opening show for the debut of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts. Last night the sequel to “The Phantom of the Opera”, called “Love Never Dies”, had its performance for the first time in South Florida at the same Performing Arts Center in Fort Lauderdale.

We are reunited with Christine, her lover, now husband, Raoul, The Phantom along with others from the original show plus, new to the story, Christine’s 9 year old son Gustave.

The Phantom lives in Coney Island, New York, in 1907 and Christine, now one of the world’s best opera singers, has been invited to sing in Manhattan. The Phantom lures her, Raoul, who has gambled and drank their money away, and their son to the wondrous world of the exciting Coney Island. We are very quickly thrown into the world of one of the most famous triangle love stories ever told.

The music by Andrew Lloyd Webber, with lyrics by Glenn Slater and Charles Hart, has written some beautiful numbers, including the title tune and “Till I Hear You Sing”, though not as quite as memorable as those from the original show.

The production values from costumes and scenic designs by Gabriela Tylesova to the lighting by Nick Schlieper, the choreography by Graeme Murphy and sound by Mick Potter all add up to a first rate setting. The set is constantly changing and the roundtable never seems to stop.

Starting with the first number, the aforementioned “Till I Hear You Sing”, sung by the Phantom, played by Gardar Thor Cortes the audience knows they are in for a treat as his voice expresses the thoughts of a man in pain yearning for the woman he loved and lost. Sean Thompson is a handsome Raoul with a voice that matches Cortes and/or any other of the cast members that he sings with in duos, trios, quartets or ensemble numbers. Mary Michael Patterson, as Meg, delivers the goods as an actress and singer, quite enjoyable but didn’t seem quite sure of her dancing. Karen Mason as Madame Giry is dressed to look like Mrs. Danvers in “Rebecca” which doesn’t distract from her bringing the first act to a powerhouse close with “Ten Long Years”. A really delightful surprise was Casey Lyons as the 9 year old Gustave playing his role and singing with a lot of confidence.

Christine, ah Christine, from her first entrance on stage and her song it is obvious that Mehan Picerno will own the role and take us on the journey she is on in “Love Never Dies”. It is when she sings that song near the end of the second act that her amazing talent is brought to the front and one wishes the songwriting team had written another solo or two for her.

“Love Never Dies” stands on its own as a musical with the vocal talents alone, along with the impressive sets, but if compared to “The Phantom of the Opera” it would be found lacking which shouldn’t deter from seeing this show in Fort Lauderdale or when it comes to your town.

Running time: 2 hours and 26 minutes including a 20 minute intermission.


“Till I Hear You Sing” from “Love Never Dies”




Posted November 8, 2017 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, THEATRE, THEATRE REVIEW, Uncategorized

“Wonderstruck”–a movie review   Leave a comment

“Wonderstruck” is a movie for thinking people. Though it isn’t necessary to take notes during the first ninety minutes it would help when the puzzle is put together in the last twenty-five minutes.

We are following the story of 2 children opening when 10-11-year-old Ben is struck deaf by lightning and the loss of his mother, never having known his father. His story takes place in the late 1970s and is told in full color. 

The other child, Rose, has been deaf since birth and, all her scenes are in black and white presented as a silent movie, has an absentee mother. Both leave home, she from Hoboken, New Jersey and he from Gunflint Lake, Minnesota, to go to New York for her to connect with her mother and him to find his father.

Their stories are kept separate, each getting equal time and easy to follow until they intertwine in a very believable fashion but unless you watch and listen closely you could get lost in how Rose and Ben are related.

It would be difficult to continue the review without giving spoilers regarding the story, with the screenplay written by Brian Selznick who wrote the original best-selling children’s book here turned into a story for people of all ages.

Ben is played by Oakes Fegley and Rose by deaf actress Millicent Simmonds with the latter making a stunning debut. Joining Ben in his search is Jamie, played by Jaden Michael, when the two boys meet on the streets of New York. The three kids have the leading roles and are stand-outs.

Julianne Moore plays two different roles, each important to the figuring out the puzzle within the film while Michele Williams, as Ben’s mother, basically has a cameo in the film as most of the adults do.

There is no doubt the ‘star’ of this film is the director Todd Haynes who ties the story, the actors, the very effective music for both eras along with the costumes, sets and photography. The beginning calls for a lot of patience from the movie-goer but they are pulled first into the separate stories and then watching it all come together.

Full disclosure: Though I followed all the pieces of the puzzle fitting together when I got home I had to look up certain relationships to make sure I had followed it correctly.

Movie trailer


Beautiful Day to a Full Moon   Leave a comment

A Day in Fort Lauderdale  Part 1



A Day in Fort Lauderdale  Part 2


An hour later almost sunset


9 PM  A full moon—see last shot


Posted November 5, 2017 by greatmartin in FLORIDA, FORT LAUDERDALE, LIFE, Uncategorized

“Tom of Finland”–movie review   Leave a comment


Touko Laaksonen—more famously and widely known as Tom of Finland—was an important influence on Gay art from the 1950s on. He was the creator of changing the imagine of the homosexual from an effeminate moving and acting to a highly masculine Gay man emphasized in the outfits of police, uniforms of bikers, soldiers, leatherman, leaders, strong muscular men with exaggerated physical endowments.

While based on his life, “Tom of Finland”, how much is true and how much has been added to Laaksonen’s life, is hard to know unless you know him. The first hour is a good depiction of how Gay men ‘hid’ whether serving his country in WW2 or living with his sister and being in the closet. It is in the second hour of the film that comes alive when he goes to California and becomes known as the artist he was and in the 1970s and 1980s influenced the world.

With topics as hot as whether Tom of Finland’s work was porno or art, whether he contributed to the spread of AIDS or was an outlet for men with AIDS, the 3 couples that the film follows, what brought them together, how differently each couple made a life, why so many Gay men were drawn to his work plus many other issues that are skipped over including so many of the political issues that were prevalent among gay people in the latter half of the twentieth century.

The first half of the film that takes place mainly in Finland’s parks, bars and alleyways is dark while the second half which to California is mainly in bright colors.

The screenplay by Aleksi Bardy introduces a lot of interesting subjects but skirts too many of them. The director Dome Karukoski follows many of the events of Laaksonen’s life and while he highlights most of them he also turns the camera away when it should have stayed on some scenes longer.

“Tom of Finland” should be seen by all Gay men to learn some of their history, will probably be seen by older Gay men who know who he was and was probably a part of their life It should also be seen by non-Gays to learn what their family members and friends who were/are Gay though they might not have even known about them and find out how they survived all those years.

“Tom of Finland” is an educational film for both Gay and non-Gay people it really isn’t a film that emotionally involves the audience though it should and could hasve.

Movie trailer


October 2017 Part 2   Leave a comment

Posted November 1, 2017 by greatmartin in LIFE, LIFE EVENTS, Uncategorized

October 2017 Part 1   Leave a comment

Part 2 tomorrow

Posted October 31, 2017 by greatmartin in FLORIDA, FORT LAUDERDALE, Uncategorized

Happy Halloween   Leave a comment

I look at the date on the bottom picture and I realize it is exactly 31 years ago and I still recognize that guy–WOW!!

I was never into the Halloween scene especially since the 1970s when everyone dressed as either Judy Garland or a Nun!

At that time I was working at Wag’s on University Drive and Commercial Boulevard–it has since been 3 different businesses–and Gonzalez, who I had worked with in New York, had brought in a painting kit knowing I wouldn’t be dressed up for Halloween and got to work so there I was walking around serving customers as a cat! Back in ‘those days’ we didn’t have phones with cameras or point and shoot digital cameras so there were no selfies or such!

I was looking through my pictures because I know I have one of my two friend’s, each named Michael, dressed up to go out to the bars–yes one was Judy and the other a Nun–but I can’t find it–will have to look again.

Thinking of the holiday and the year I realize it is also 31 years ago both Michaels and one of my mentors, Albyn, died, 2 in the month of October. The three of them loved celebrating Halloween and it has become a bittersweet time for me–I miss them but I see kids all dressed up getting ready to ‘trick or treat’ and I just want to say Happy Halloween and have a lot of fun!

Posted October 31, 2017 by greatmartin in HOLIDAYS, Uncategorized

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