Wednesday, May 27, 2015

God Has Made it to Broadway

Some of my favorite shows I've seen have been small one or two person shows. New York has another in town now that reads much like a stand-up routine...given by God. An Act of God is playing at Studio 54 for a limited run this summer and has a funny premise written by David Javerbaum and directed by Joe Mantello. The man who has taken over twitter as "God" with almost two million followers and has a long history as a writer/producer on late night talk-show TV has brought his act to Broadway. God isn't thrilled with the current commandments and decides to give us some new ones while clarifying a few points from the Bible.

Much of what is happening on stage had me laughing out loud while other points may be a little cringe-worthy to some. The joy of this evening is the fact that God has inhabited Jim Parsons' body and what we get is Jim being Jim. It's fun, it's irreverent, and it's a great way to spend 90 minutes of your time. I'm not sure that Christopher Fitzgerald and Tim Kazurinsky are truly needed as angels, but they do add for some fun sight gags, a little audience participation, and both are very talented men. But it is Parsons many are here to see and he delivers. How one can memorize an entire show such as this is an amazing feat. Half talk-show (he is sitting there on a sofa for much of the show) and half stand-up, his God is a funny deity that has much to say for how things have gone down since the Commandments were first written.

I felt the show moved along at a great clip (while I've heard from others it becomes a long night for them). I think there is an audience for this show and it may not be the regular theater-going crowd. I'm not sure how critics will take to it, but obviously Javerbaum has been doing something right on social media and knows what jokes work and which ones don't. Whatever critics may say, it's a limited run, people will be making deals with the devil (or scalpers) to see Parsons and this show could continue with God taking over the body of another celebrity.

Grab a few cocktails and get to Studio 54 to be schooled by God. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Something Rotten is Anything BUT

Sometimes a new show in New York seems to come out of nowhere and ends up getting tons of Tony nominations and people attend telling you that you MUST go see it. That's what happened with the musical Something Rotten! It seems we just started to hear about this new comedy that tells the story of the first musical during Shakespearean times right before the Tony cut-off was approaching. However they have been working on this for years (as is the case with most shows before we hear about them). Friends of mine saw it in previews and said it was wonderful. Last night, seeing it with them again - I have to agree.

While the brothers Karey and Wayne Kirkpatrick may be new to Broadway, they are not new to the arts. Karey has been working as a writer/director in Hollywood for years and Wayne is a Grammy winner. Add John O'Farrell to the mix (one of the UK's best comedy writers) and you have quite a team making their mark on Broadway with this show. This new comic musical is a cross between Book Of Mormon, Spamelot, and The Drowsey Chaperone which makes since since Casey Nicholaw is at the helm as director/choreographer. What a talent this man is! If you have a comedy on Broadway now - you want him involved in some way.

The musical has it all: rivalry, jealousy, betrayal (sounds like Shakespeare, right?) - but it's all done in a smart, comic book/score. Two brothers (the amazing Brian d'Arcy James and the endearing John Cariani) are constantly trying to write the next best thing in the Renaissance period of 1590, but always competing with that star Shakespeare. Christian Borle is obviously having a ball playing Shakespeare as a cross between Elvis and Frank-n-furter. I don't want to give away too much of the plot of this show as the brothers attempt to write the first musical. How do they find out about musicals…that's a clever plot point in itself with Brad Oscar giving a Tony-worthy performance as a soothsayer Nostradamus. 

I had read the show is 'low-brow' and a one joke show. SOOO not true. It's low-brow meets clever and smart. You are laughing so much at the constant nods to musicals and Shakespeare plays that you miss several. It's a throwback to a kind of humor enjoyed by many while putting a fresh take on a show set so long ago. I loved it! There is a treasure-trove of Broadway funny people in this show from Heidi Blickenstaff as the dutiful wife (donning numerous disguises), to Kate Reinders as the adorable love interest, to Brooks Ashmanskas cracking us up as the prudish puritan, Peter Bartlett, Gerry Vichi….the funny list goes on and on. (Shout out to Jenny Hill who is wonderful in the ensemble and Bud Weber who I could not take my eyes off when dancing! "Cassie, don't pop your head." (Yet another hidden nod to a show that I'm not even certain Mr. Weber knows he's doing when he gives every dance move his all.) 

I will admit, I am not one to always like college show humor. There, I said it. I must think I'm 'above a man in drag for a laugh' or something. But I had a ball at this show. There is a number (I'm sure we'll see on the Tony awards) called "Musical" early in the show and I said to my friend "where do they go from here? That was the 11 o'clock number!" And they just keep topping it. Casey Nicholaw has his cast singing and tapping their feet off…sometimes even dressed as eggs!

If you want a laugh-out-loud night at the theater, get thee to the St. James Theatre.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Slowing Down for Social Media

How quickly do you throw a LIKE on Facebook or a FAVORITE on Twitter? Do you ever click on the link and read the article or does the title grab you and make you feel you need to share it?

We're all slaves to limited hours in the day and some people are jumping on and off social media quickly whenever they can. I will declare my guilt. There are times a topic seems important to me and I want to share it and I do without looking into it more. However if something seems really important to me - I often try and investigate first. (Notice I say 'try' - I'm not always great at my own advice.)

Here are a few social media tips around this topic that might help:

1) Slow down. Remember you are endorsing that topic and should be prepared for others to engage you in conversation because of it. Are you going to be able to take a stand one way or the other?
2) If it's truly controversial, do a search to make sure another news outlet is covering that same story. Anyone can print anything on the web. (I'm doing it right now.) Post the news source that is more trusted and not the ones that will simply upset your friends because of the chosen headline.
3) Hit up Snopes! They can often be a great source to disprove that bandwagon all of your friends are jumping on. News travels like wildfire and maybe you can be the one to post that it's already been debunked and throw water on it until the next fire starts up.
4)  Read the date on the link. Things start to trend again (for some reason) because everyone starts sharing without…duh, duh, duh…clicking on the link. (That's how James Garner showed up as dying again the past few days when..God rest his soul, he died last July.)
5) Stop and decide if it's worth getting in a fight over before hitting the share button. I'll admit - I share A LOT - usually something about Theater, Film, Writing, Equality, Autism - but I've found that some of my topics upset some of the people that only follow me because of another topic. If you are a person that doesn't care what others think about you (I bow to your strength), disregard #5 on my list.

RIP, James Garner (again).
That kid that was missing has been found while we were all posting about the Amber Alert.
The food recalled has been declared fine to eat again.