Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Trump Is No Laughing Matter

It's no longer funny.

What seemed like a reality TV stunt for ratings snowballed into the presumptive nominee for the Republican Party. Everyone is now trying to get their head around how this happened, but I saw it happening last July when I first blogged about it. The other candidates seemed frightened of Trump. The media loved the ratings they got from showing him. He got more publicity than any other candidate and now we're all paying the price.

I'm sad, mortified, heartbroken that some people I love and care about support him as our president. I can even (gulp) deal with them enjoying him as a TV personality or admiring him as a business man - but I can NOT support him as the leader of the free world.

In less than a year, he has managed to undo so much in our country, dividing us, and it will only get worse if he moves into The White House. I completely understand people upset with politicians and believing someone else could do a better job, but that person has to be qualified. I wouldn't call an electrician to my house because my pipes broke! Everyone seems to think he'll be great for the economy because he's a business man. Well, as a business man he profited over the collapse of our economy. And he does not support keeping the rules and regulations in place to stop it from happening again...because that's when businessmen swoop in and make a killing. Look, that's what business is all about, but I don't believe we need a man as our president who knowingly wants the economy to fail. Trumponomics is not a good thing.

Many people love that he speaks his mind - yes, he does. Like a blathering idiot. The man has no filter and will piss off any foreign dignitary he may be dining with. This frightens me to have a loose cannon saying whatever he feels. Perhaps it works in his boardroom, but not in the oval office. At first I had a tough time believing he was really as vile as he comes across. I thought it had to be an act. But he has managed to offend nationalities, disabilities, genders - he doesn't care what comes out of his mouth. This is not someone you want children admiring. American children are the future and need a good role model. I've already heard from teachers that children are emulating this bully in schools and it's not ending well. If you're Mexican or Muslim, be prepared to be pointed at and teased. If you have a disability, you're not immune to his callous behavior.

As he moves towards a general election he STILL hasn't made it about issues. He can't debate or have a campaign on issues because he doesn't know where he stands. Is he a Republican or Democrat? Depends on which way the wind is blowing his hair! He clobbered his way through the primaries by attacking his opponents like a dog, yet NEVER made it about issues - only name-calling and bullying. He's still doing it now with anyone that opposes him. Candidates, congress people, media - he will attack and attack. He loves to call others liars, yet he is the master at it. (I get it, it's part of his ammo - but how can you trust him?) He only gave the 1 million to the veterans NOW because he was called out on it. But has a way to spin it on social media so that his supporters will rally around him like he is the great orange savior that is going to actually DO something for the middle class. He can't even comprehend what that is....middle class OR class.

I can NOT endorse Donald Trump as my president. I can NOT understand those that can. I know I will hear that the Democrats don't have any good choices either, but I tell you - I would take either of them over this sick man that only cares about building up his own name. (Hence the name is everywhere.) I don't believe he cares about America. And though Sanders and Clinton may both have faults of their own, I will jump behind either to take down this horrible man who should stick to building golf courses and hotels and leave the American people alone.

Wake up, America - he doesn't care anything about you.


Friday, May 6, 2016

Waitress Serves It Up

There are certain shows I really look forward to seeing and get my tickets way in advance. That's what happened with Waitress currently on Broadway at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Waiting until after it opened and after it received four Tony Awards nominations meant there was more pressure going in as I already knew what others were saying. Well, I was NOT disappointed. From the moment you enter the theater with the aroma of pies and see huge pies lined in cases along the proscenium, you know you are in for a treat.

Based on the film by Adrienne Shelly with a book by Jessie Nelson, a score by Sara Bareilles, and directed by Diane Paulus - this all female creative team has created an old-fashioned musical that feels new and fresh. 

Jenna is a waitress in a love-less marriage to her overbearing husband Earl and seeks escape by creating pies with unusual names. (I Don't Wait Earl's Baby Pie, Old Joe's Horny Pie) An unexpected pregnancy, a pie-baking contest, and a new gynecologist all play into Jenna's world as ways to start a new life or does she simply stay and accept the life she has?

Jessie Mueller who won the Tony for playing Carole King in the musical Beautiful is absolutely wonderful as Jenna. She is tired, beaten, but hasn't given in. She is not one of the actresses on Broadway that feels she needs to belt her face off in her every song and gives such great texture to the wonderful songs by Sara Bareilles. (Especially the empowering hit She Used to Mine.) She had two friends she works with that makes life bearable and Kimiko Glenn ann Keala Settle each create such awesome characters making for a great family with Jenna. 

Drew Gehling is the quirky doctor that steals Jenna's heart and I really liked that he made the role his own and not a copy of the film. Eric Anderson and Dakin Matthews both show curmudgeons can also have a heart and Nick Cordero gives us a villain without taking him too far over the top. Christopher Fitzgerald uses his comic chops to give us an adorable Ogie that makes you perk up each time he enters the stage. 

The ensemble is used brilliantly to aid in Jenna's mind with choreographed moments of creating pies, or being the customers in the store (constantly having to eat),  and it's fun that you can tell who must be understudying each lead role. I also loved seeing the pit on the stage. I just wish the sound would have been a little better as we had a tough time at the start hearing performers (perhaps it was the accent the performers are using).

This really is a feel-good musical that seems to do it all right. It gives us comedy, it makes us feel, and it offers an everyday heroine that can create extraordinary out of sugar, butter, and flour. Lastly, they have been smart in their marketing from releasing Sara Bareilles singing the songs before it opened to the social media team that is right on top of everything with this show. Great job by everyone involved with this heart-warming musical!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Rocking the Winter Garden Theatre

Walking into the Winter Garden Theatre, I'm always going to think of Cats since it was the first show I saw in that beautiful space. Andrew Lloyd Webber has returned to his home with his latest musical School of Rock (which has an inside jab at Cats). Based on the film of the same name that starred a crazy Jack Black pretending to be a teacher simply to make money, the musical sticks very closely to the screenplay - adding in Lloyd Webber songs where it feels appropriate.

Let me just say that I grabbed a last minute ticket to a matinee at TKTS, ended up on the inside aisle of the 5th row, and the kids and parents around me were loving this show. It's this season's Matilda. A true show the entire family can enjoy (if you bring earplugs). It is ROCK and it is LOUD. I've always been a huge fan of Sir Lloyd Webber, but didn't find anything in this score too inspiring or exciting. You will hear bits and pieces of his former works, but the audiences don't seem to mind. It's not about that. It's about rocking out, cheering loudly at every cute/clever moment that happens on stage. And yes - the kids ARE adorable in this show.

The prep school children that find their inner rock star are all wonderful in their own way...and as the announcement tells you before the show - they play the instruments themselves. I was totally enthralled each time they were on the stage. For me, they are the true stars of the show and I appreciate how each of them has their own personality and moments to shine.

I was curious to see Alex Brightman in this show since he got so many different nominations this year. The man was born the year I moved to NYC (boy do I feel old) and has been in Wicked, Big Fish, Matilda but finally got his big break with this tour-de-force role. He is screaming rock at the top of his lungs, running around the stage like a madman amped up on Red Bull & entertaining the audience each time he opens his mouth - I don't know how he does it all. (I was really glad he played the matinee as I wasn't sure he'd be on.) He truly is a talent. However, I wish director Laurence Connor would have trusted him more to create an original character and not have him copy the film as that's what I felt I was getting. Right down to the facial expressions he'd make. However, he does work well with those talented kids and for that I give him high kudos.

The other person people would recognize is Sierra Boggess (The Little Mermaid, Love Never Dies) as the school principal who you know will be letting her hair down in a rock show the moment she appears all prim and proper. She gets to show her soprano voice off in this role while acting like an uptight Marion from The Music Man. The other adults are all totally fine adding multiple characters in what they know is set dressing around the man and the kids. (Unfortunately, the script is written so unevenly, there isn't much more for them to do except play the parents and the teachers in this show that centers on the children.)

There isn't anything that 'new' or 'different' in School of Rock in this year of revolutionary theater. I felt I'd seen it all before and not simply because it was a film. The cardboard characters that aren't fleshed out, the standard sets, nothing thrilled me. So for that reason, I'd really only recommend this to families looking for something to take their kids to. I am disappointed after seeing this that the Tony committee recognized it with the 4 nominations that it received. There were other shows and performances (cough...American Psycho - Benjamin Walker) that definitely should have gotten in over what I witnessed at the Winter Garden. Guess I'll just have to keep my memories for now of previous shows in this theater until the next production comes along that blows me away.