Last Saturday I was invited to see the new musical based on the movie Big Fish after winning a contest that was held on their website. I was incredibly excited because I remember liking the movie (when I saw it in theatres back in 2004!) and the cast was phenomenal: Norbert Leo Butz, Bobby Steggert, and Kate Baldwin. Tonight: Big Fish opens!

I didn’t really remember what the movie was about, but I heard it was a touching father/son story. A man who’s father has always told him phantasmagorical stories is dying and before he passes, he wants to find out the truth about his father’s past.

The first thing that stood out to me were the costumes (design by William Ivey Long) – they were gorgeous and somewhat magical. My next favorite aspect of the show? Norbert Leo Butz (and his dancing). He was fantastic in Catch Me If You Can, and he lives up to and surpasses every expectation in Big Fish. He weaved in and out of being a teenager and a dying old man with such ease. Kate Baldwin and Bobby Steggert also, of course, didn’t disappoint either. Baldwin weaved as easily from teenager to senior citizen as well, and Steggert has it easiest (as he never had to make any huge age leaps) but was still a joy to watch discover the truth about his father.

The score is enjoyable, the choreography fantastic, and supporting cast was lovable. Remember how I said this was a heartwarming father/son story? Well: it was. Everyone around me was crying at the end and I even choked back a tear.

I hope lots of legs are currently breaking at the Neil Simon and the reviewers are warm. Big Fish is definitely a welcomed addition to this Broadway season!

Yeah. I like this…

I recently played through the concept recording of Paul Scott Goodman’s Bright Lights, Big City, based on the novel by Jay McInerny. I still knew every single word. It was totally weird.

Circa 2006, I found myself with a copy of the star-filled concept recording and after listening to it once, I was obsessed. When I learned that the Prince Music Theater in Philadelphia was producing it (for the first time since it’d been at NYTW in 1999), I found a friend and we made a day (and night) of it (we literally got back at 2am and headed over to Marie’s Crisis until closing – of course).

Truth be told: Brights Lights, Big City doesn’t really work as a musical, if we’re being honest. It’s based on a book that is written in a really odd narrative. But the score? Holy shit. One of my top three favorite scores ever (after Hair and High Fidelity, probably).

And if you love Patrick Wilson, or say, Sherie Rene Scott, or Jesse L. Martin, or Eden Espinoza… well, you’ll love it too. 

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. 

Nominations Announced for 67th Annual Tony Awards; Kinky Boots Earns 13 Nominations – Playbill.com

So, there were donuts in the conference room at my office today as we waited with baited breath for the nominations on NY1. The donuts were good; the fact that Matilda received 12 nominations was better.

Things I’m particularly excited about:

  • Bring It On’s nominations (Best Musical, Best Choreography). I loved this show – though I may be biased. But I’m totally ecstatic that it got two nominations that it very much, IMO, deserved.
  • Rob McClure for Chaplin. He was just phenomenal. There were no words. 
  • Condola Rashad in The Trip to Bountiful. She was endearing, and funny, and gave a great performance.
  • Pippin’s nomination for Best Revival of a Musical. You just have to see it to get it.

The hysterical moment came when they announced Best Lighting of a Musical. Kenneth Posner received three out of four nominations. I’m not sure that’s ever happened before. If he doesn’t win.. it’ll be the biggest shock of the awards.

I guess nothing else is that big of a shock as far as the nominations go. I suppose I have to see Kinky Boots now. I guess I’ll be rushing it! 

Congrats to all of the nominees!

Nominations Announced for 67th Annual Tony Awards; Kinky Boots Earns 13 Nominations – Playbill.com

Last week I was invited to see a preview of the new musical by Amanda Green and Trey Anastasio (and the brilliant Doug Wright with the book), Hands on a Hardbody. The story is based on the true events that took place in a small down-on-their-luck town in Texas and the ten Texans who try to win a brand new pick-up truck. Whoever takes their hand off the truck last wins all.

The music is, as expected, very country, but also lovely to listen to. The staging, by Sergio Trejullio, around the beautiful center piece (a true-to-lifesized truck) flowed with ease.

The best part, in my opinion, was the cast. Filled with seasoned actors, like Allison Case, Jay Armstrong Johnson, Hunter Foster, and Davis Larsen, it was a true treat to watch them all perform onstage together. 

Neil Pepe also did an excellent job directing this new musical and made sure everything flowed seamlessly as the car turned. Though part of me wonders what it would be like to see this piece in the Circle in the Square Theatre, or any space that’s in the round. 

In any case, Hands on a Hardbody is a new musical that is full of life and hope, much like their main characters. 

Thank you to Serino Coyne for inviting me to see the show!

So, here are a few fun facts about Matilda the Musical:

  • There are eighteen (18!) kids in the show.
  • They never had an invited dress, so one Matilda wouldn’t get the praise above the rest.
  • The role of Matilda is the largest role ever written for such a young (and small) person (she carries about 90% of the show).
  • There were no stops at the first preview tonight.
  • The performance lasted two hours and forty minutes (and this is including the fact that they started a bit late too).
  • The score (which I heard for the first time tonight) is still in my head. (This never happens.)

I’ll post my more formal-ish review after opening night. But for now: just go buy your tickets. You’ll thank me after it opens and tickets are no longer available, like what happened to The Producers (except this is way better – The Producers, IMO, was garbage).

I had argued that it wasn’t a good idea to bring Bare back to New York, at least not in a very, very expensive way. I knew the writers had good intentions, but really, this revival was unnecessary as last year’s revival of Rent. I saw the third-to-last performance last Saturday and although I did enjoy watching it, the one word that absolutely describes it is contrived

The popular jock and the nerdy gay boy get into a relationship? Check. The jock is insecure with himself and sleeps with the stereotypical slutty chick? Check. The stereotypical slutty chick ends up getting pregnant because, of course, they didn’t use a condom? Check. The typical nice high school guy gets screwed over when trying to court the stereotypical slutty chick? Check. I can’t think of one scenario in Bare that I hadn’t seen played out somewhere else before last Saturday. The high schoolers were all caricatures of every type you’d expect.

That said: I enjoyed myself. The set was super cool, some of the music was melodic, the cast was great. and I felt like I was experiencing part of musical theatre history. This show had high hopes of getting to Broadway in 2004 before the Dodgers went broke (and apparently it was a completely different show back then – maybe less contrived?). I had many friends who’d loved it, though I’d never had the chance to see it. 

Alex Wyse was completely fantastic as Peter, and Jason Hite was good as Jason (although his voice got a bit whiny at times). I enjoyed seeing Missi Pyle onstage. This was also my first time seeing Gerard Canonico in a non-ensemble role and he was quite great. He has a great voice, and he moves really well (I completely missed this someone in American Idiot).  

While I’m glad I got to experience it, I think Bare may have been better left in the time capsule back in 2004, as it was just no longer as edgy as it probably was back then.