My Desert Island All-Time Top Five Break-Ups

I’ve had a couple of shows that I’ve absolutely loved that have crashed and burned so quickly on Broadway that it would make your head spin. High Fidelity was one of them. And when a concert of the aforementioned beloved musical is taking place, you buy tickets. (Even if it’s happening at the excessively overpriced 54 Below, you still go.)

Kristen and I both have an unrelenting love for HiFi so we were beaming and our work days could not go by quickly enough.  We grabbed a leisurely dinner at Glass House Tavern and then went over to 54 Below to claim our seats at the bar. It was like a reunion of friends, old and new. I saw so many people that I hadn’t seen in – literally – years. I saw assorted cast members of Bring It On (and one from American Idiot – Van Hughes) at the bar and then realized that they’d be singing back up for the ensemble numbers.

Will Chase took the stage and it started.

I can’t describe how excited, elated, happy, energetic, etc. I was to see this happening in front of me. I mouthed the words. I danced. I think at one point during Desert Island, Taylor Louderman saw me and waved (though I have no idea why because I don’t know her – maybe she was applauding my enthusiasm?). I couldn’t have been any happier. 

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Will Chase still killed the score. Ana Gasteyer ripped up She Goes. Adam Chandler Berat was a spirited and PERFECT choice for Dick, and Mitch Jarvis was highly entertaining as Barry. When Van Hughes took the stage to sing a few songs as Rob, it was like watching “High Fidelity Jr.” but he was great! Jenn Collella and Amanda Green sang ‘Ready to Settle’ together, which was lovely. Mario Cantone as “The Boss” singing ‘Goodbye and Good Luck" with Will was amazing. David Larsen, Corey Mach, Jon Rua, Janet Krupin, Corey March, Ryann Redmond, and Taylor Louderman were fantastic as the ensemble.

Simply put: the concert was jaw-droppingly amazing. I would pay $35 + $25 food minimum once a month to see that happening in front of my eyes.

We said hello and goodbye to some friends and then went to say hello the star of the night (sort of?) Will Chase. I know Will from years ago, doing lots of benefits with him, and being a fan in general. But I hadn’t seen him for years. I think I ran into him on the street once a year or two ago, before Smash had ever premiered. 

We had a joyous reunion. So joyous that Kristen felt the need to capture it in film.

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When I joked saying that watching Van was like watching ‘High Fidelity Jr.’ he replied, “No it’s not! He’s the right age. I’m too old for this part!” Hah. We took pictures for old time’s sake. It was fun. I look like incredibly dorky in mine.

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We told him we’d see him soon, said goodbye to the last of our friends, and then walked down 8th avenue to the train.

To say it was the best night ever might be only a bit of an exaggeration. 

While Women on Verge.. was a massive flop that even the likes of Brian Stokes Mitchell and Patti LuPone couldn’t save, Wonderland was a trainwreck with no names (as fantastic as Kate Shindle is, she is not a name) and a huge budget that was spent entirely on sets, projections, and costumes, and not fixing the major story problems. 

I saw the second to last performance of Wonderland a few weeks ago and sat there stunned through each act.  The story started in Queens with a newly relocated mother and daughter, fresh from a divorce.  The mother is a writer and trying to finish a book, and is forced to open her imagination when her daughter is lured through the looking glass by the Queen.  

To start with there was no need to set the beginning and end in Queens.  Wonderland was basically the story of Alice in Wonderland with a few modern updates and a happy ending.  Kate Shindle was fantastic as the dominatrix-like Mad Hatter, and Morgan James (who I’d seen recently in concert) was excellent as Alice.  The book was all over the place, and some of the music was decent.  The only enjoyable moments were the humorous boy band numbers lead by the White Knight (Darren Ritchie).  

It was obvious that a bunch of wealthy individuals who were really unknowledgeable about theatre saw this as an opportunity to do something they could brag to their friends at the country club about.  I heard this was exactly the case: a bunch of people with money down in Tampa at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts saw the show and unfortunately didn’t see the problems.

Hopefully the next time they fall down the rabbit hole, it’ll be with something a little bit more successful. 

(photo via)

The one trick [Doug] Henning [producer of Merlin] couldn’t perform, however, was making the critics disappear. When previews dragged on for eight weeks and three opening dates were canceled, Frank Rich of the New York Times and Douglas Watt of the Daily News chose to review the show two weeks prior to its latest opening date. This prompted intense debate, with Clive Barnes in the New York Post condemning his colleagues’ actions and co-producer Marvin Krauss asking the press, “Why didn’t [the critics] cover ‘A Dolls Life’ when it began previewing here after ten weeks in Los Angeles?”

Not Since Carrie, by Ken Mandelbaum

Sounds familiar, huh?