A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder won the 2014 Tony award for best musical. So I had super high hopes. Overall I really enjoyed the show. The downside was that I only understood 75% of it, and I wasn’t alone. My two theater companions also had difficulty understanding either the accents and the lyrics to many of the songs. We did get the gist of it, though.
Monty Navarro is mourning the loss of his mother when a stranger tells him that his mother was a D’Ysquith (pronounced dies-quith), a well-known upper class family. If true (it is), that makes him ninth in line to become the earl of Highhurst, with all the money and prestige associated with that. While Monty doesn’t start out to off the other heirs, that’s exactly what happens, and this my friends, adds up to humor in the play. The drama comes from not knowing it he’ll succeed, and also whether he’ll get away with it (early and at the end we see Monty in prison). Continue reading “Review: Is A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder Appropriate for Kids?”
I’ll be honest that Finding Neverland on Broadway was initially not a show I wanted to see. Why? It’s about JM Barrie’s journey in writing Peter Pan. And I’m not a fan of Peter Pan. But I wanted to see one of the boys who plays a Davies brother (Alex Dreier) as I’m friends with his parents from our college days. And I went to see Billy Elliot when Alex was cast in the show, but he wasn’t performing that night (the kid actors take turns and you’re never quite sure who will on stage that night). The other reason was that I was doing an annual theater night with my writer friends during a conference. We took a vote as to what show to see, and Finding Neverland was at the top of everyone’s list.
Hand to God was one f-ed up bizarre play. Yet it was hilarious. This is not a show for children (please, please don’t bring your kids, not even your teens). In fact, I’d say this is not a show for many adults. It’s truly disturbing, and I say that even though I enjoyed it.
In a nutshell, this is a show about mother and son grieving the loss of their husband and dad, trying to get through the process partly by working on a church hand puppet show (“Christketeers”). While doing so, the teen son’s puppet (or is it the teen?) becomes possessed by the devil (or not). And the mom isn’t doing so well either. And herein lies the tension…and the jokes.
The cast of five includes Steven Boyer who plays the grieving teen Jason, and his puppet Tyrone. There were no puppeteering gigs listed in Boyer’s bio. You would never know he wasn’t born doing this. Not only do you forget at many points that there’s only one person playing both roles (even though his mouth moves when the puppet talks), that puppet moved/acted so well that when the puppet came off, I fully expected it to get up and start moving and talking some more. Continue reading “Review: Hand to God – is Hand to God Appropriate for Kids?”
You don’t have to be a Broadway junkie or know Shakespeare’s plays by heart to enjoy Something Rotten, but you’ll get more out of it if you do.
Is Something Rotten appropriate for kids? More on that later. First, a little background. This musical comedy is based in the Renaissance, where one of Shakespeare’s playwriting contemporaries is trying to come up a show that will make him famous and well paid. With the help of a “friend” he creates the world’s first musical. Hilarity ensues.
My daughter and I continued our Superbowl Sunday tradition – of going to a Broadway show. This year it was It’s Only a Play, and I fretted a little over whether it was going to be appropriate for my 13 year old. My Zumba, instructor who saw it the weekend before (but after I got tickets) shook her head no and said, “language!” Well if that was it, then I was hopefully okay. More on that later.
The plot: A group involved with a Broadway play production gather at the producer’s house for an opening night party, awaiting reviews. The group includes the wealthy producer, the playwright, the playwright’s male best friend who turned down the lead role, the female lead, the director, a critic and the hired coat boy. The play is set in the producer’s upstairs bedroom, while the party goes on behind the scenes.
My husband saw a Fuera Bruta show a few years back and has been telling me I’d love it. It’s a hard show to explain. It’s like a combination of performance art and Cirque du Soleil type acrobatics in the air (though not as technically difficult) but in a club atmosphere. The show goes on above you, to the side of you, behind you…you get the point.
When you enter the theater, the red lights are glowing like in a club, and you just stand there. You do not sit at all during the show, and the staff will move you around depending on what scene is coming up. They’ll use hand motions to move you. Just hang on to those in your party and back up or move to the side – whatever they tell you. It’s not the best place to go if you’re truly claustrophobic.
In case you’re wondering (I was), Fuerza Bruta Wayra means “brute force wind” and the show was founded in Argentina. The name does help explain why many of the show elements did include wind! The show has live music (mostly drumming) and singing, but no words other than the words of the main song, which basically sounds like a backdrop. There’s no storyline either. It’s like a series of vignettes. Of course you can interpret themes like man’s struggle against the movement of time, or various emotions, or entrapment or whatever you want. I’m not sure what’s behind it, but you can just stand there and enjoy it without reading too much into it. Continue reading “Review: Fuerza Bruta Wayra NYC – Good for Kids?”
I will admit that the main draw to me getting If/Then on Broadway tickets was to see/hear Idina Menzel perform. And the concept of the show interested me too – a look at one woman’s life depending on which choices she made. Like in the movie Sliding Doors.
The gist is that 38 year old Elizabeth moves back to New York City from Phoenix (my hometown – they had a few jokes at the city’s expense). She’s out of a relationship and looking for work. The show goes back and forth between two different scenarios: she takes a job as an urban planner or she takes a job as a professor. She hooks up with a stranger/soldier she meets in the park and gets married and has kids. Or she hooks up with her former best friend, has an abortion, loses him and lives a spinster life for a few years. Continue reading “Review: If/Then on Broadway – Appropriate for Kids?”
It’s been about 15 years since I saw the Blue Man Group, at a theater in Chicago. I remember the drums and I remember the toilet paper. And I remember changing into my skirt in the front seat of the car ride from Wisconsin to Chicago. And I recalled that the Blue Men’s faces and hands were painted blue. That may have been true. Or perhaps they had some kind of rubbery skin covering like they do now.
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Well, now I have kids. And Blue Man Group has been performing for 23 years at the same Astor Place Theater in New York City, plus a year at another NYC location, and a year performing as a street act. They have five permanent shows across the country (Chicago, Miami, Las Vegas, Orlando, Boston), plus a touring group, plus a Norwegan ship show.
We were kicking ourselves for not seeing Newsies the musical, when it made its pre-Broadway debut at the Paper Mill Playhouse. And it was the one Broadway show my son wanted to see (not sure why – he doesn’t know the story). I heard good things about it – from adults who went sans children – and was excited to take the kids to a show where boys were the lead. Last time we went to a show, we saw Annie, with all girls. And Billy Elliot – which was mostly girls.
Bottom line: We enjoyed the show, but it didn’t blow us away. The show is high energy with some great dancing and good musical numbers (it won 2012 Tony awards for choreography and musical score).