Tag Archives: Glee

Stinker Superstar, shrill Eva.

NEW YORK STORIES – The Shows Pt 2

1. Jesus Christ Superstar at the Neil Simon Theatre.

2. Evita at the Marquis Theatre.

I have decided to pair these two productions together for two reasons. Both are from the Andrew Lloyd Webber/Tim Rice team. and both are lacklustre second rate productions of ok musicals, well at least I used to think that they were ok. Perhaps I was wrong?

Jesus Christ Superstar came from an acclaimed sell out Canadian production and all I can say is that up there in Stratford Ontario they must not get out much. Of course this is not entirely true as it originated at the renowned Stratford Shakespeare theatre festival. I saw it on my first day at a matinee, and  I refuse to blame the jet lag for my lack of enthusiasm. I was wide awake in disbelief at how poor it was. It reminded me of musical moments on “Glee”, I am a fan of Glee but it is suited to the small screen and not a Broadway stage. Cheap sets, cheesy staging and two lead performances that were completely miscast or misconceived. Chilina Kennedy who plays Mary Magdalene couldn’t hit the notes and most of the time sounded out of tune, her acting was as mechanical as the set. I saw the understudy in the role of Jesus (Nick Cartell), his role was performed so boringly passive it made me aggressive!!! The only saving grace was Tony nominated Josh Young in the role of Judas, he is a fine actor and belted out his numbers with real conviction (it’s a great theatre role), unfortunately his costumes were very oddly fitting and cheap, along with the rest of the cast – the thrift shop suit Jesus wears in the final scenes looked like reject duds from a 70’s blaxploitation film, oversized on a small white man. The score was supposedly so loud they announced you did not have to switch off your cell phones as nobody would hear it. Well it wasn’t that loud and I found the orchestrations very dull and uninspired. A cheap production transported to the great white way, ripping off the tourists who most probably deserved it since they gave it their obligatory standing ovation. I sat put in my seat defiant!!  This Superstar was a stinker. Being my first production on this trip I was taken aback and feared for the worst. This week the producers have announced that if sales don’t pick up they will close the show on July 1st marking the production as a big flop as it should be. Perhaps there is a god after all?

Josh Young shines as Judas

Evita is another second hand production that originated in London quite a few years back. Acclaimed director Michael Grandage is responsible for the first ever revival of the hit musical from the late 70’s about the life of the infamous wife of an Argentine dictator. Originally it had star performances from Patti Lupone and Mandy Patinkin in the roles of Eva Peron and Che Guevara. This time we have dull performances from Elena Roger (recreating her London success) and pop star Ricky Martin who hardly registers at all in his role. This production has abandoned the high theatrics of the original clever Hal Prince staging and opted for a more realistic approach that unfortunately lays bare the tedium of the by the numbers biography elements of the show. Eva is bored in small town, Eva meets high powered politician and beds him, Eva wants power, Eva gets sick, Eva dies. It’s a bit like watching a Hallmark TV movie. Scary that I have compared both shows to television! Now back to the leading actress Elena Roger, she’s a pint sized dynamo in the first few scenes and well suited to the choreography (Rob Ashford doing a great job) they fling her up in the air countless times perhaps because they can. But she lacks the vocal chops that the role demands sounding so shrill it hurt my ears. The gimmick is that she is from Argentina therefore authentic, well unfortunately I didn’t understand very much of what she was singing, thankfully I knew the score. A lady sitting next to me was new to the whole show and was very confused and unimpressed. A saving grace was the standout performance by Michael Cerveris as Eva’s hubby the dictator Juan Peron. He gave the role soul and compassion and has a superb singing voice, very grateful that I got to see this fine performer live on stage. As for the rest of it well lets just say that I’m not crying for Argentina, I’m crying for Broadway mediocrity.

Michael Cerveris in his Tony nominated role as Juan Peron in Evita.

It is interesting that both productions have a standout supporting performer and that both leading ladies have vocal problems. Mr Lloyd Webber and Mr Rice sure have cashed in this year with lazy revivals of old hits. What I am fearing next is that Sir Andrew has a reconceived production of “Cats” waiting in the wings – this time performed on roller-skates with authentic cat fur costumes.

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It’s A Wrap – Part One.

Wrapping up the box.

MY TELEVISION YEAR.

It has been a very busy year for Babs so there were far and few television programmes watched with regularity. Thankfully I have a DVR and with boxed set DVDs and friends abroad it has allowed me to catch up on some great TV viewing. Here are my faves and the reasons why I stay glued to the flat screen.

1. The new kid on the block – AMERICAN HORROR STORY.

The wondrous creators of ‘Glee’ and ‘Nip/Tuck’ – Brad Falchuck and Ryan Murphy are responsible for this campy take on the haunted house theme. A young family movie into a house in Los Angeles to repair some damage done due to daddy’s infidelity. Full of naughty housekeepers in garters or with glass eyes, a rubber gimp suit, creepy neighbours, ghosts past and present, a homo couple and references to the pitfalls of childbirth and children to boot! It is a real treat, crafty and creepy, a guilty pleasure – minus the guilt! Jessica Lange in her SAG and Golden Globe nominated role as southern neighbour Constance is the shows highlight amongst many. Renewed for a second season, this time with a different family, house and ghosts I can’t wait to be horrorfied again.

2. The silliest  stalwart – TRUE BLOOD Season 4.

Sooky (Anna Paquin) and her sexy suitors returned for more murderous mayhem and plenty of blood spilling. This time the foe was a coven of witches led by the formidable Fiona Shaw as the leader Marni. One highlight was when the superb Nelsan Ellis as, arguably the best character in the treasured show – Lafayette channels the spirit of Marni therefore imitating Fiona Shaw,  it was a hoot . Kristen Bauer van Straten as vampiress Pam had lines of dialogue to rival Sue Slyvester in ‘Glee”. It was sillier and bloodier then previous seasons but it still works for me. Bring on season 5 which will feature Christopher Meloni (Law & Order SVU, Oz) as a sexy superior vampire. What more beefcake?  🙂

3. Never a pain – NURSE JACKIE Season 3.

Edie Falco, warts and all, returned as the most flawed character I can recall on the small screen. This season a new nurse entered the frame and he was right on Jackie’s case. She managed to dodge the bullets of last seasons revelation that she is indeed a pill popping addict using prescription drugs to avoid the pains of life in a big city hospital – juggling a dual life at home and at work, the final episode in which she pulled the two- faced whammy and asked her husband to get out of the house was a whopper. Falco leads this great ensemble with a riveting performance, Eve Best as the best friend continued to delight as do the rest of the staff of All Saints hospital in NYC all helping to make this series one of the best shows on TV right now. It shows no sign of losing its appeal making me want for another hit – am I an addict?

4. Medievil Mafiosa – GAME OF THRONES.

HBO – well those 3 capital letters they do make you stand up and take notice. New to the quality stable of series comes a show that is a real treat. It has been tagged  as a ‘The Sopranos” in Middle Earth but it is far more than that.

Filmed in Ireland and Malta the scenery is glorious and production values are of the highest order making this show flawless and allowing  you to immerse yourself  into the fantasy world that simply makes you believe. Fine acting from a mostly British/European cast and an Emmy winning performance by the little man of the moment Peter Dinklage (The Station Agent) this series follows many clans across many kingdoms who covet the throne to rule all. It took me a while to work out who was who and what the hell was going on at times, but it has individual scenes that were riveting and as a whole was entirely engrossing. Once I found my way around the clans of the Starks, the Lannisters, the Targaryens, and so on I was hooked.

Production design and costumes should be singled out along with seamless CGI that has you seeing and believing in this wondrous other world. The title sequence is superb as well.

Mention must be made of the final scene, I was absolutely stunned, it came from nowhere but once revealed I cannot recall a single image like it in recent times, it shook my world and will surely shake up the next eagerly awaited sophomore season of this great show.

5. Musical Mayhem – GLEE Season 2 and 3 (pt 1)

The musical maniacs of McKinley high school returned and whilst the episodes were very patchy and uneven, when it soared it was well worth the effort of persevering with this pioneering show. The episode in which virginity was lost between a heterosexual and homosexual couple of kids was a highlight, though not as controversial as they say, it cleverly used  the staging of the musical of West Side Story to great effect. Sue Sylvester had her usual quotas of clingers –  always a delight. I am looking forward to the new series ‘Smash” that follows in the musical footsteps of this favourite of mine.

6. Homegrown quality at last – THE SLAP

Perhaps setting a long overdue benchmark for quality television out of  Australia this controversial suburban soap opera had everyones tongues wagging. ‘Who’s side are you on?’ was the tagline – following the aftermath of a family BBQ in which a child was slapped by another adult, not his parents. Based on the acclaimed popular novel by Christos Tsiolkas each episode concentrated on a separate character as the saga continued. Covering many hot topic issues and featuring a multicultural cast the performances were first class, the writing gratefully accomplished and the production values at the top end of the scale. It was a welcome change on the local television scene. Kudos to cinematographer Andy Commis who created a cinematic canvas that is unusual for Aussie drama.

Please don’t die on us – THE BIG C season 2.

Laura Linney returned as Cathy with terminal cancer – at times she can be very self righteous and selfish but then she is dying so I guess all can be forgiven. This dramedy had some fine moments and some terrific guest stars – Hugh Dancy & Parker Posey. It was good to see the character of Andrea played by Oscar nominee Gabourey Sidibe (Precious) fully fleshed out this time. Unfortunately I missed a couple of eps midway but the final episode packed a sentimental but very powerful wallop, making me feel I had run an emotional marathon myself.

Honorable mentions to

MODERN FAMILY  – a great cast of characters both the adults and the kids, constantly funny, I don’t watch religiously but I am always pleased when I catch eps every now and again.

THE LOVE BOAT (reruns on 11) – I love catching up on the retro guest stars often Hollywood icons long dead and TV has beens.  Silly storlylines that keep me interested even though oh so cliched.

THE GOLDEN GIRLS (reruns on Gem) – A TV comedy classic with a great cast of elder actresses. Betty White is the last dame standing as sadly the other 3 cast members Bea Arthur, Rue McClanahan and Estelle Getty are no longer with us. Perfect comic timing and wonderful retro references tickle my funny bone a plenty.

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SMASH is coming.

SMASH is coming in Feb and I can’t wait . Please let it be fast tracked to Australian TV screens.

Here is a preview of a music video from the show, thanks to BWW.  Click on the link 🙂

STAGE TUBE: First SMASH Music Video ‘Beautiful’ Premieres by Katharine McPhee Video Content (BroadwayWorld.com).

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This horror is a hoot and a hit !!!

Did anyone catch the new series “American Horror Story” on Tuesday night?

It’s the highly anticipated new show from the creators of “Nip/Tuck” and “Glee”. Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk.

I am a big fan of both of those series (Nip/Tuck is no longer in production) for I love the over the top approach to the subjects and the good old lets have some fun attitude, with a touch of social commentary that is relevant to today’s world.

“American Horror Story” does not disappoint, I loved it and am looking forward to seeing next weeks episode and the next and the next!!! (It has already been picked up for a second series following its success in the US.

The plot is a bit creaky but so what? It’s a genre piece and I am sure must be quite difficult to revitalise the old haunted house story.

A family of 3 move from Boston to LA to mend a few past problems. Mom, sadly, is recovering from a miscarriage and dad is in the bad books because he was caught sleeping with a student in his own house. Their troubled teen daughter takes on the angst of the parents and has to deal with a new school full of bullies and a weirdo boyfriend who also happens to be a patient of her father (he’s a therapist).

They move into a very spooky looking mansion that was a bargain at half the price of other real estate in the area, of course there is a reason for that – the last couple that lived in the house  died in a double suicide/murder incident – oh and they were a gay couple who had restored the house from a decrepit state in the opening prologue scene. Add to the mix a housekeeper who is seen as an old bag to the wife but appears as a sexy maid in garters to the husband, and to add icing to the delicious cake bring on the kooky next door neighbour with the “mongoloid” doom-saying daughter (the character’s description not mine), she’s a former actress who didn’t make it because the moral code changed on her arrival from the south to Hollywood and she didn’t want to show her ‘green pastures’ to anyone, as she puts it. This role is played to the hilt by the divine Jessica Lange in her first foray into episodic TV, welcome Jessica you are a delight.

Jessica Lange and Frances Conroy share some spooky secrets.

As for the rest of the cast Connie Britton (Friday Night Lights) plays the wife and she is great fun to watch as she clearly seems to be enjoying playing the role. Dylan McDermott (The Practice) plays the hunky dad who is constantly walking around the house butt naked (I’m not complaining) and even has an intense masturbation scene that outdoes the one seen in the first episode of “The Slap” (another good series worth watching -in my own opinion).

Dylan McDermott shows some skin.

Taissa Farmiga (the youngest sister of actress Vera Farmiga- a fave of mine)  she plays the daughter and I am sure she will get a lot of attention with this role. Frances Conroy (6 Feet Under) is suitably odd as the elder incarnation of the maid. Oh and I forgot to mention the strange man in the rubber fetish suit and the great Denis O’Hare (who will ever forget his vampire king in True Blood?) as a former owner of the house who gives us some much needed plot exposition. There is a lot to take in, and it is fast and furious, creepy, camp and loads of fun. It also features a grand old opening title sequence that surely is a homage to the one used in “True Blood”.

Bring it on Ryan and Brad.

Check it out on Channel 11 – Tuesday nights at 9.30.

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Fancy Frock Winners.

The costume designers guild handed out their own awards today, I am quite pleased with the results.

Period – Jenny Beaven for THE KING’S SPEECH

Fantasy – Colleen Atwood for ALICE IN WONDERLAND

Contemporary – Amy Westcott for BLACK SWAN

I was particularly happy for “Black Swan” to win, the attention to detail was divine. Sadly Amy Westcott is not up for the Oscar, contemporary films rarely get noticed by the Academy. The last time a contemporary film won an Oscar was way back in 1979 when Albert Wolsky won (deservedly)  for “All That Jazz”.

My prediction for the Oscars is “Alice In Wonderland” but “King’s Speech” may go with the sweep expected. My choice is “True Grit”, I have not seen Sandy Powell’s creations for “The Tempest”, I am sure they are excellent as her work always is. I am pleased that “I Am Love” got a nomination. Perhaps if it wins it will break the 32 year drought for a contemporary win.

I was happy that “Glee” won the TV award for contemporary – congrats to Lou Eyrich.

 

 

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Sue and her star mum

All you Gleeks out there, you are in for a treat next Monday night (Australia).

After a guest role from Gwyneth Paltrow (she was quite good) last night we have a real mega guest star appearing next.

Announced previously the great and I mean GREAT Carol Burnett makes her appearance as Sue Sylvester’s Nazi hunter mom.

They sing a duet – ‘Ohio’ from the wonderful musical “Wonderful Town”, which originally starred another great – Rosalind Russell.

I have heard an audio sneak peek and it sounds fantabulous! I am so glad they do a Broadway number and not some lame pop tune.

Can’t wait to see it for myself.

And I bet my bottom dollar she is dressed in Bob Mackie!!!

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Glee vs God

The gods are not praying for me this week. GLEE is on a 2 week hiatus on Australian screens while Channel 10 programmes the terribly dull Commonwealth games.

This weeks Glee ep 203, screening in the US is an episode tackling religion – titled “Grilled Cheesus”. Named after the footballer Finn sees an image of god on his grilled cheese sandwich. I have read that the gay teen,Kurt (who proclaims he does not believe in God), has something to say, noting that many Christian churches “don’t think much of gay people, or women, or science.” The religious right will be up in arms I am sure.

Some song choices are REM’s “Losing My Religion”, The Beatles “I Wanna Hold Your Hand”, and Rachel sings “Papa, Can You Hear Me” from the film “Yentl – can’t wait to hear that one.

After the terrific first ep of the new season, followed by the terrible (but high rating) Britney Spears ep – the only ep I have not liked one bit. The 3rd ep should be interesting.

Though the thought of having to wait another 2 weeks to see the ep does have me cursing in the lords name – strike me down!

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