Review: Come From Away

The day after my birthday in April, my parents and I celebrated by seeing the matinee of the new, immensely popular Broadway musical, Come From Away, with book, music, and lyrics by Irene Sankoff and David Hein. I’d been watching this piece come to life through a friend’s Instagram posts and I thought it looked cute, but I wasn’t really dying to see it. But once my parents heard about it and it’s popularity spiked just before their opening night, I finally stopped finding reasons to not get around to see it and I’m certainly glad I did.

A lot of the music sounds very Once-esque, which I was immediately annoyed by (despite being a big fan of Once because that is music for Once and not this, etc. etc.) but I warmed up to this folksy music as well as the rest of the score over the next 100 minutes. (Yes, it’s 100 minutes, no intermission. #best)

I’m pretty resistant to anything and everything that co-ops 9/11 which is probably responsible for some of my resistance to sit down in the Schoenfeld, but Come From Away doesn’t do that. They barely mention what happened and they never say “9/11” explicitly. It’s purely about humanity and this tiny town in Newfoundland named Gander and how it’s citizens come together to host these ~7,000 strangers who are stranded there for a week-ish) by this catastrophic event.

The cast is amazing – filled with some of my favorites from my teenage years as a Renthead, among others – Rodney Hicks, Kendra Kassebaum, Chad Kimball, Jenn Colella, etc. The cast uses very subtle costume adjustments to change characters in an instant when they flip-flop between planes (people were trapped on the plans for 28 hours!). I’m pretty sure this is no easy feat and I’d 100% screw up what character I was when if I had to do that.

My favorite subplot line was the one about the SPCA director in Gander, Bonnie Harris (played by Petrina Bromley) and how she basically forces her way into the cargo holds on the planes because she has the foresight to suspect that there are animals onboard and they need to be taken care of (#squee!). She’s right. There were 19 animals on all the planes – something like 7 cats, 9 dogs, and one pair of rare Bonobo monkeys, among others, all of whom she takes care of while they’re there. This obviously warmed my heart. She deserves a medal.

There are many other touching and tear-jerking story lines which I won’t give away, but you should get yourself to the Schoenfeld and see this heartwarming little show as soon as you can (if you can, because tickets are selling out at each performance).

Sticking It To the Man at 30

My parents wanted to do something other than just take me out for brunch for my birthday this year (because I’m turning 30) and I suggested we go see School of Rock. I’ve been slow on my show-seeing this season and my mom agreed that it was a good idea. We sat in the second row on the left side last Saturday and I was looking forward to it. The movie was meant to be turned into a musical and Andrew Lloyd Webber knows how to write a good score. At the very least, it was bound to be good.

I was disappointed that Alex Brightman (Dewey) was out but seeing how his standby Jonathan Wagner looked exactly like him, I knew I probably wasn’t going to mind (after all, I had nothing to compare him to). Sierra Boggess was in though, so there was that.

The pre-show announcement is made by Webber himself and states that yes, all the kids are playing their own instruments. Good to know because I found myself wondering that as they shredded through the score! Holy shit, those kids are talented. 

The score is great and it follows the movie almost to a T. Everyone in the cast is very talented and I walked away humming the score (which usually never happens). The staging and sets were great and the choreography was effective. Jonathan Wagner also didn’t disappoint. My 30-year-old ass definitely walked away singing “Stick It To The Man.” 

If you like the source material (ie. the movie) and musical theatre, get yourself over to the Winter Garden Theatre immediately. School of Rock won’t let you down if you’re looking for a good time. 

In here life is beautiful.

My dude bff, Ben, turns 30 today and since I a out of the city, I surprised him with tickets to see Emma Stone (one of his long time actress crushes) in Cabaret on Thursday. I was a bit nervous that she would be out since she was out on Sunday but luckily she was in that night. We sat the bar stools in the orchestra – pretty much the same seats that I sat in when I first saw the show in 2000. Great seats – barely any obstruction (though admittedly there is a little).

I could hear a bit of sickness in Emma’s voice that night but she was really solid, fantastic even. She’s gotten more into the character since I saw her in her first week. She’s a great dancer too. Alan Cumming was on fire, as usual, and Linda Emond and Danny Burstein were incredible too. I adore them both.

Emma Stone is a great asset to this production and I only wish she were staying at the rest of the run. Ben was even more in love with her afterward.

Emma is in Cabaret through early February. Catch her while you can.

Strawberry Fields, October 9th, 2013, 8am

The anniversary of John Lennon’s birthday is a day I always celebrate. I got to Strawberry Fields a couple of times, I sing some songs, I blast it through my iPhone. This year was even better because I played DJ at work today and my colleagues very graciously humored me while I played through the 6.5 hours of John Lennon and Beatles music that I’d packed onto an iTunes playlist on my work computer (because you wouldn’t believe how impossible it is to find John Lennon’s actual albums on Spotify).

I burned Mind Games Sessions (Disc 1 and 2), John Lennon (acoustic), Wasuponatime, Imagine, Abbey Road, and The White Album (discs 1 and 2) onto my computer. 

And after that was over, I played the Across the Universe soundtrack which, thankfully, was on Spotify. (And yesterday we listened to Instant Karma all day.)

I stopped by Strawberry Fields on my way to work this morning (the above photo was taken at 8am) and then I stopped by again after my yoga class ended at 9pm. At 9, there were dozens of people there and many musicians set up, all happily playing, and singing, their hearts out.

John Lennon is tied in first place with a certain Billie Joe Armstrong for favorite musician ever. And why not? Lennon was one of Armstrong’s inspirations growing up so it make perfect sense. Taking a few hours out of my day (and my colleagues’ day) is the least I can do to celebrate him.

I am he, as you are he, as you are me, and we are all together.