Monthly Archives: March 2011

Broadway back home #2

Continuing on my last post my addiction to the Broadway musical just won’t go away. Rehab! Could you imagine a rehab for fans of the musical 🙂

Last weekend I ventured of to see the all new Australian production of “Hairspray” – the musical. The first production not to recreate the Broadway version. I am all for our Australian talents doing their own version but this production is a poor mans version of the Broadway original. David Atkins (director) has produced a lame version of a truly great musical. Using incredible technology he has managed to make the show seem lazy and laboured. Thousands of LED lights make up the set of sliding screens that project animated images to give you the settings and emotions that you are supposed to feel. I was not aware that I was paying $145 to see animation on stage and actors just acting as props for the spectacle. The cast give it their all and are mostly terrific. But without a good resident director, this late into the run, they are all mugging and scenery chewing I am amazed nobody has had an electric shock!!! Newcomer Jaz Flowers as the adorable Tracey Turnblad sings superbly and can dance up a storm, but she plays the role very worldly and knowing right from the start whereas I recall the character should have an innocence that by the end of the show has grown into a powerful activist. Her knowing asides irritated me the most. As her mother Edna- Trevor Ashley  plays the role like a drag queen which is a real fatal mistake in my opinion. The stand out is Tevin Campbell (as Seaweed) a US import and former child singer who is of great voice and sexy dance moves that really soar above the mediocrity. I could go on, but I won’t, I did not like this production at all. I saw the Broadway recreated production in London and loved it so much. But here the audience lapped it up and loved it – go figure!

This weekend I went to see a preview of the Broadway jukebox hit musical “Rock Of Ages”, this time a carbon copy….more in my next post.

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A little bit of Broadway at home

It is almost 12 months since I started to plan my holiday to New York, my how time flies. Since that trip  my theatre bug has escalated and I long for my return.

In the meanwhile……..

I have been traipsing off to the theatre to see some Broadway hits in their local version.

Here are a few thoughts.

SPRING AWAKENING

The Tony winning emo rock musical that launched the career of Glee’s Lea Michele & Jonathan Groff.  With book and lyrics by Steven Sater,  Music by Duncan Sheik. Based on Frank Wedekind’s controversial play of 1891, the musical fuses a nineteenth century story about provincial German teenagers coming of age, with a twenty-first century indie rock score, it was a thrilling musical experience.

Performed by the Young Australian Broadway Chorus at the National Theatre in StKilda – an amateur theatre production that was far from amateur. The extremely talented young cast of performers had talent in abundence. Future stars in the making that would make Australian Idol stand back in shame.

I loved it. loved the book, the score, the direction, the sets and costumes were fine also.

I so wished I had have seen the original Broadway production, but at least I have seen it 🙂 I have bought the cast recording and it is hardly off the player in my car……

the sounds of “I don’t do sadness” blast out of the car, no doof- doof for me!

MARY POPPINS

Mary Poppins was playing when I was in NYC but I knew there was an Australian production being performed back home so I decided to skip a 3rd generation cast on Broadway.

I am glad I did. Cameron Mackintosh is an expert in casting first run shows (his Australian cast of Les Miserables is legendary). Mary Poppins is no exception.

Performed at Her Majesty’s Theatre in Melbourne (about to head to Sydney), I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. Even hideous children squirming and complaining and wanting to go to the toilet for the attention! – did not effect my attention. That in itself is a triumph. The carbon copy production was excellent and the cast were superb. hats off to as Verity Hunt-Ballard as Mary Poppins so bossy and vein, and Debra Byrne was so moving and such a superb voice as a the bag lady feeding the birds. The child actors had talent in abundance and the effects were clever, fun and inspired. Mary disappeara\ing thru the roof was far more exciting than the tired old chandelier from that dreadful Phantom musical.

I went along on the day of performance and there was only 2 available seats left – restricted viewing. I checked the plan and realized that I would only on occasion miss the extreme stage left performance space – about a metre. I saw everything and loved it all. All at the cost of $30 – what a bargain.

XANADU

Performed in a tent at the Docklands, the asshole of Melbourne development, already I had my doubts. I recall a tent version of “Starlight Express” that was a mega flop many years ago.

So Xanadu the musical is based on the dreadful 80’s flop film that was a vehicle for Olivia Newton John (go figure) after her success from the film version of “Grease”. the soundtrack was a huge hit, the movie a huge flop.

This show is a clever construct. Douglas Carter Beane, an acclaimed playwrite has fashioned a very clever and camp book full of quips and asides about how bad the movie was, his tribute to the 80’s “Clash Of The Titans” was inspired – well at least I got the jokes, made for 40 something gay men!  the songs are familiar and u will hum them for days after – not that that is a good thing.

But the main reason to see this show – Christie Whelan, in the shoes – or should I say roller skates – of our own Livvy in the lead role of the muse Kira, all Aussie accent and leg warmers and the timing of a great comedienne, the singing voice of any great Broadway diva, and the dancing chops that could easily appear in a Fosse show, and she was mostly wearing skates. A true triple threat and she is a star. I saw her in early 2010 in “The Drowsy Chaperone” (in the role of Janet Van De Graff) and I was very impressed and took note of her talents, she is next to appear in “The Importance Of Being Earnest” alongside her Drowsy co-star, Geoffrey Rush. She is a rising star and you must see “Xanadu” for her alone. But the rest of the show is well worth it, an energetic cast and plenty of zippy cleverness to please most.

I also managed to catch a performance from the great LILY TOMLIN at the National Theatre, what a star! what a wonder! what an inspiration to me and all.

 

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Oscar dud

All I can say is the Oscars this year were the worst ever – in my own opinion.

The horror of Kirk Douglas feeling up Melissa Leo would have to be the lowest of the low point. Melissa Leo full stop!!!!

So disappointed Annette Bening did not win 😦

Disappointed for Jacki Weaver, happy for Hollywood producers with vision (think beyond the pigeonhole) – Jacki is a great dramatic actress & also a fine comedienne – if Neil Simon was still productive in the film scene she would be a fine Simonesque female lead. I yearn for the Simon years to return, alas it seems that Judd Apatow is amongst us now 😦

Appalled by Hathaway & Franco as Oscar hosts – what were they thinking? The doomsayers were spot on. The whole Oscar show was amateurish!! Imagine having all that money and resources and you get cheap and tacky!

I dreamed a dream – I was watching a smart witty and funny screen comedy starring the combo of Bening & Weaver. Isn’t Hollywood the stuff of dreams? – tell that to the Oscars next year, please no more Oscar nightmare for me.

BTW Melissa Leo – to take out a tacky trade ad promoting oneself and passing it off that women of your age are not getting those magazine covers.This has not happened since the days of Bette Davis – get a reality check. Then to spout out the fuck word for pure sensationalism (in my own opinion) at the Oscars, my you are a classy lady. But you won the Oscar in the age of reality tv and sensationalism – good on ya.

 

 

 

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