Saturday, April 30, 2011

Rock on Broadway

It may have been Chris Rock that was hired to bring in an audience to the play that can't be said out loud on TV, but it's Bobby Cannavale that drives that show - and has been receiving best actor nominations (rightfully so)! In Stephen  Adly Guirgis' one act play The Motherf**ker with the Hat, Mr. Cannavale gives a tour de force performance that is so far away from what I've seen him do on Will & Grace or Six Feet Under - I'm so glad I was able to catch him in this role. Here he is a man attempting to hold it all together with so much energy exuding out of him that he can't contain it. And while usually cast as Italians, his mother's Cuban roots come shining through in this role. Joined by Elizabeth Rodriguez, Annabella Sciorra & Yul Vazquez, this ensemble show brings the audience on a ride of dysfunction brought on by recovery addicts and those that still partake. The play moves along at a fast pace and the 90 minutes fly by (those audience members that arrive 30 minutes late are only getting an hour long show and we saw several getting there well past curtain). 

The set is a true work of genius as it moves back and forth between three different apartments. Huge kudos on that for keeping the pace moving while we watched it transform in front of our eyes. I have to say that I love Chris Rock's stand-up shows, and he delivered his comic lines in his usual clipped way - but I couldn't help thinking what a true actor could have done with some of the meatier scenes. All in all - if you don't mind the "F" word (which is said over and over) - get to the Schoenfeld Theatre and catch this one. 

Side note: those that read my blog know I mentioned a woman this past Tuesday that annoyed me so much at Sister Act - I had a few words with her during the show. Imagine my surprise when she & her husband walked in this evening and sat down directly next to us. Either I'm being stalked or I'm being punked. Millions of people in NY and I have to be on the same show tract with the talker...and yes....when the last song came over the speakers, she sang along. 

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Take Me to Heaven

In June of 2009, I walked out of the theater in London high as could be over a new musical I had just seen. And tonight, my friend Kathi and I continued our Tuesday night 'New Broadway Musicals tour' and saw the transfer of that show to Broadway. Sister Act received the most Outer Critic nominations this morning with nine including Best Musical & Best Score - and the score Alan Menken has written is wonderful! I loved it the first time and loved it even more this time. I'm thrilled he wanted to move the story to the 70s so he could write a true disco score - and I have to say I never missed the music from the movie. 

I'm thankful Douglas Carter Beane was brought in to 'funny' up the script...and he did! Some really clever one-liners have been added to beef up the book (that needed some help). The audience goes crazy when the nuns are on stage. When they are not, you feel the audience wanting them back. But for me, those other moments were great as I got to see the wonderful Broadway performer John Treacy Egan (from The Producers) shine in a great role...and also remember him before he was a big Broadway star when he sang on a demo tape for a musical of mine back in 1998. Patina Miller is still a star that shines so brightly in the main role made famous by Whoopi in the movie - and I can't believe she played the role so long in London and can still give so much. Victoria Clark (who is wonderful in anything she does) gives another layered performance as the Mother Superior. 

Yes, it still bothers me the nuns get a song before they learn to actually 'sing', but it is musical comedy after all. A fun night that I recommend to all! (Even though the woman next to me tried to ruin the night for me since she saw the show was set in the 70s and she thought she was at the movies watching Shaft and talking back to the stage as if trying to tell Richard Roundtree what his next move should be...some people should just stay home and watch TV.)   

Monday, April 25, 2011

This Court IS Out of Order!

After hearing more than fifty cases in the past two months, all I can think of are the words "free at at last" when my service on jury duty comes to an end tomorrow. Those words don't seem quite fair to the work I've been doing as freedom is what each of those people are striving for. But serving on grand jury, listening to case after case of robbery, drug possession, murder - only to decide if there is enough evidence to send it on to trial - has completely worn me down. Grand jury is a very different animal in that 23 people sit and listen to case after case in a day to see if there is enough evidence to indict. I understand it is my duty as a citizen and it is an integral part of the judicial system, but requesting people to serve for that long turned my life upside down. 

You start out really in to what you are learning (as we've all watched law shows and think we are one step away from trying a case ourselves), but by week three and sound as if you are on repeat. It is amazing to think about the amount of work that goes into gathering evidence just to go to trial. And I am very appreciative of our law enforcement officers who are out there fighting crime on a daily basis. I just couldn't believe how much it affected my job and home life to change your schedule for two days a week for two months. Plus, the planning they do each day (if we want to call it planning) is not something that would ever fly in most jobs. They call you in at 9:00 am - you see the list of cases, but they decide to start whenever they want. Plus, some days the cases can fly by and they give you a huge break for lunch, but tell you that you must return in the afternoon (rather than plan out more in the morning sessions.) 

But as I stated - I am nearing 'freedom' for at least the next three years until I receive another summons in the mail. And who knows: perhaps my next novel will now be a crime story with all my new found knowledge.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Flying on Broadway...not Spider-Man

Aaron Tvieit as Frank Abagnale, Jr.
When I heard they were making Catch Me If You Can into a musical, I will admit...I had not seen the movie. So a few months ago, I watched it. I remember thinking the movie felt long as we followed the true life tale of this young con man. Then my next thought was "how the heck are they going to put this on stage?" Knowing the musical team behind Hairspray was at the helm, I then thought with sarcasm "great, they are hitting the 60s again with this musical." Well, one should not go into a musical with so many preconceived notions. I was instantly pulled into this (yet another musical based on movie) by the way that Terrence McNally (whom I love as a playwright) chose to tell the story. Frank acts as the narrator of his own life - much the way Will Rogers did in The Will Rogers Follies. Only instead of a follies, we have a TV type variety show that really 'works' for this theater-goer. The music never reminded me of Hairspray, yet fit the style of the show very well. I will admit there are some songs that could probably go and no one would miss them, but the show moved along quickly - so it didn't bother me. Knowing it is necessary to build some tension in a show and give us characters to care about, the creative team has built up the role of the FBI agent (played brilliantly by Norbert Leo Butz) and created a parallel between him and Frank (Aaron Tveit who was wonderful in Next to Normal). 
Leonardo Dicaprio in the movie version
While driving home, I thought about the show - still believing I had been entertained (for my discount ticket price), but believed something was missing in the main character. Not from Tveit's performance as his voice, stamina, and acting were all top notch. But somehow the character isn't fleshed out enough to be giving different levels to play until the very end. I wish they would have re-thought that to let the audience in sooner on more of his heart and less of his smile. That said (and though critics didn't rave this past Sunday when it opened & it personally didn't thrill me as much as Mormon or Priscilla), I believe it's a welcome addition to Broadway and will keep audiences very entertained. (If you get a chance: listen to two of the songs "Fly, Fly Away" and "Goodbye." Nice!)   

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Peek into Me

There are times I wish that I had truly been diagnosed with OCD because I think I suffer from it - big time. Now, I don't mean I wash my hands over and over or need things in their proper order, but those that know me know I have a tendency to start a project and become very obsessed. I make list - constantly. I check items off and re-do the list. I write myself emails as a reminder of things I want to accomplish and then feel proud when I can put those emails into the DELETED file. I toss and turn in bed as more 'to-dos' pop up in my head. It can be about my job, my writing, my health, my weight, planning vacations - you name it: I can obsess over it. But there are those people in my life that have taken what some may think as a negative character trait and called me 'driven', "motivated', and 'energetic'. And when it comes down to it, I suppose I wouldn't want to be any other way. I'm glad I was told at an early age to really GO FOR IT. (But if those items that feel the need to get on my check list want to a take a rest during the night, I'll be fine with that.)