Going psycho one last time.

After American Psycho announced their closing date, Kristen and I quickly grabbed tickets on TDF for last Thursday because I’d be away for the rest of the week. I really thought the score, the book, the cast, and the sets and staging was so great. It was a special kind of campy that I’d hoped could find a niche on Broadway.

Well, unfortunately, niches don’t keep shows alive on Broadway and in the black.

I was really thrilled to be able to see it one last time (though, for the record, it was only my second time) and this time it was from the mezzanine so I’d be able to fully see the sets and lighting in all their glory.

And it was glorious. The hardcore fans they’d likely found were there making noise and you could the cast was having a great time. Benjamin Walker had amped up the crazy since the first week of previews and his voice (and body) was in perfect shape.

My favorite song of this score ended up being Killing Spree as Walker sounds great and it’s a particularly hilarious song (aside from the killing).

People say Americans aren’t any where near mature enough to take their mental health seriously and to begin to have an honest conversation about it. Audiences being unwilling to embrace a brutal and bloody show about mental health might be a clue to how very true that is.

RIP, American Psycho.

It Only Takes a Taste

Last Wednesday I went to my final show of a marathon (for me nowadays) of 7 shows in 2.5 weeks, Waitress. I hadn’t (and still haven’t, though it’s on my queue) seen the movie, hadn’t listened to any of the music, and I don’t know any of Sara Bareilles’ music (maybe a partial lie – I’ve heard, like, one song before), but I heard it was good, and the last row of the mezzanine is super cheap (and actually not awful, take note!). I’d also not yet had the pleasure of seeing Jessie Mueller in a leading role so I was quite excited for that, too. 

I arrived at the theatre to the scent of baked goods (good job, producing team, that was the right choice), immediately became hungry, and took my seat. The rear mezzanine seats at the Brooks Atkinson are not bad at all. It’s not like the St. James where you feel miles above the stage (that’s the balcony, I guess, but still, they’re awful seats). I looked at the cast and only recognized a few of the names in addition to Mueller’s. A cast of unknowns – awesome!

I knew the basic plot of the show – waitress in a redneck town gets knocked up – but not more than that. It’s a pretty typical plot as far as plots about girls getting knocked up in redneck towns go. Abusive husband? Check. Witty group of friends/colleagues? Check. The boss who’s also a semi-father figure/advice giver? Check. A new love interest? Check. 

Jenna (Mueller)’s friends at the diner Dawn (Kimiko Glenn) and Becky (Keala Settle) were both hysterical, and super talented. I realized at intermission that Kimiko is So-So from Orange is the New Black and she has a terrific voice and she’s a great actress. Drew Gehling (who plays Jenna’s new love interest, and her OBGYN, Dr. Pomatter) was just delightful. He was nervously awkward but very genuinely sweet. Dawn’s love interest, Ogie (Christopher Fitzgerald), totally steals every scene he’s in. Give him an honorary Tony Award for comedy or something. 

The show’s conclusion is logical, but disappointing. I guess such is life, too. I really enjoyed the score (good job, Bareilles), as well as the lighting. To be honest, I don’t remember much of the choreography. Side note: the sets are all automated. At the end of the first scene of the second act, an announcement went over the PA system saying they were taking a 10 minute break for technical difficulties. Shortly thereafter we got back on track. #livetheatre

I’m not sure whether it was the short pause in the second act, or the overall length of the show, but although I really enjoyed it, it felt it was 15-20 minutes too long. It definitely worth a visit though, especially if you like Sara Bareilles. 

Last thing: I totally bought the $10 pie-in-a-jar at intermission. You just want some baked goods, any baked goods, after the first act. Nom.

A Theatre Date with Myself

So, I’ve been whittling away at the shows I need to see this season and when Tuck Everlasting came up for the Saturday matinee last weekend, I said why not. I knew it was based on a book (or a movie?) and it had a great cast (Terrance Mann, Carolee Carmello, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, etc). The summary on Playbill did not make it sound enticing though: “When Winnie Foster discovers the magical secret of the Tuck family, she embarks on an extraordinary adventure that will change her life forever.” Snooze. It sounded pretty damn boring. I was already committed though so there was no turning back. I was hooked up by TDF in the fourth row of the mezzanine with a great view. 

Playbill’s elevator pitch was accurate but the story (and show!) was actually a lot more interesting and entertaining than the pitch would let onto. When Winnie runs away, she meets the Tuck family who, 100 years earlier, accidentally drank from a spring in the forest that Winnie’s family owns and they are now immortal. 

Andrew Keenan-Bolgar plays Jesse Tuck, the 17-year-old son of Angus (Michael Park) and Mae (Carolee Carmello) Tuck and brother of Miles (Robert Lenzi). He tells Winnie (the incredible Sarah Charles Lewis) his families secret which is less than ideal for his family. After some conflict, Winnie has to decide whether or not to drink the water that Jesse has given her when she turns 17 and live forever with him.

Terrance Mann plays “Man in the Yellow Suit.” He’s a strange old man that can tell people’s ages by looking into their eyes. You can probably tell what happens and he goes after the Tuck family, though unsuccessfully. Mann has always been one of my favorites and he certainly didn’t disappoint with his supporting role in this show.

I have to say that I really enjoyed it. It was really sad at times and really funny during others. It had a lot of heart and was really heavy. The one thing that bugged me was the ensemble choreography in the first few numbers of the first act. Maybe it was where I was sitting, but it looked so sloppy. It got better from there though.

This entire cast is uniformly strong and meshes really well together.

The buzz is that this show won’t make it past Sunday, which is sad but what can you do? If you’re skeptical about whether or not to see Tuck Everlasting, I’d recommend giving it a shot. It could surprise you the same way it surprised me. 

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. 

This is what being Patrick Bateman means to me. 

J and I went to see American Psycho on Tuesday night (remember when I waited on line in the freezing cold for like way-too-long?) and I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d listened to the London cast recording a bunch of times on Spotify and loved a lot of what I’d been hearing, but who knows how it would transfer, right?

I’ve been lurking on the American Psycho Previews thread on BroadwayWorld and the buzz was that the first act was amazing but the second act dragged. I was excited to see how they’d handle the chunks of the book that included the mass murders of numerous prostitutes and how much blood, exactly, would be on that stage. I’d also heard the opening moment of the show was amazing. I was really excited but trying to keep my expectations low, anyways. 

Spoilers ahead!

The opening moment WAS cool. The stage was filled with smoke and there was screaming, but I wanted it to be more frightening. (Maybe they’ll up the scares during previews.) For those of you who saw the cast perform on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert last week, well, Benjamin Walker is only in tighty-whiteys and looks like he’s eaten nothing but protein shakes since then. He looks good. He describes his morning routine and then the song Selling Out starts.   

I know Selling Out wasn’t in the London production and I have no idea how the show must’ve felt without it. It sets the feel for the entire show. These are a bunch of empty, shallow (albeit extremely well-dressed and good looking) people who care about all the wrong things and are extremely annoying.

I digress. Cards was the next great song. Theo Stockman is playing a completely different character from who he has played in the past (Hair, American Idiot) as the obnoxious colleague of Bateman’s Tim Price. J burst into a laughing fit as soon as he spoke his first lines because his voice is just that ridiculous. Another stand out was Drew Moerlein in his Broadway debut as another one of Bateman’s colleagues Paul Owen. He was as smug and overly expressive in that douchey way that only an investment banker on Wall Street can be. 

You Are What You Wear was an introduction to the women who (sometimes) occupy these men at night. Helene Yorke as Evelyn (Bateman’s girlfriend) and Morgan Weed as Courtney (Evelyn’s friend) outshine every other female on that stage with their comedic timing and portrayals of these socialites. I don’t think Yorke opened her mouth a single time that wasn’t answered with laughter from the audience.

Side note: Jennifer Damiano plays Bateman’s secretary, Jean, the same way she always plays her roles (Next to Normal being the exception). That said, she didn’t disappoint. Alice Ripley plays Bateman’s mother in addition to two other small roles and she’s great. She’s supposed to be a heavily medicated mother which she’s done before and won for a Tony for it, so: this is basically a walk in the park. 

The pre-written songs that Sheik wove into the show were seamless and worked without question. Everybody Wants to Rule the World and In the Air Tonight (this one sounded exceptionally spectacular) fit right in, as does Hip To Be Square at the end of the first act. 

The score is so very 80′s and it’s so much fun. Not a Common Man was one of my favorite songs of the first act and I Am Back and This Is Not an Exit were definitely my favorite in the second act. I had I Am Back in my head all day yesterday. 

There are LOTS of projections used in the show. And there are two turntables on the stage. Even though Les Miserables is referenced over and over (it was the hot thing in 1989!), the turn tables don’t make it feel like we’re watching Les Miserables at all. Don’t worry. Donald Trump is also referenced probably a dozen times, too, since he was a big thing especially to Wall Street douchebags. Trump is referenced three times as much in the book though. The producers couldn’t have picked a more appropriate time to transfer American Psycho to New York with this reference intact. 

So, the gore. There’s not a lot of blood in Act 1. He kills his first person at the end of Act 1 and there’s a decent amount of blood on the plastic scrim. I was really curious as to how they would get through all of the people he murders in the book and they handled it perfectly. Patrick Bateman has really loses his mind by Act 2 and after trying to clear it with a trip to the Hamptons accompanied by Evelyn, he returns to Manhattan (I Am Back) and goes on a killing spree. There’s lots of blood on people and the walls for this. Imagine a pile of dead bodies center stage and that’s how this song ends. It was a perfect way to get through a good 100 pages of the book that describe how he murders dozens of people.

Oh, and the sex. There’s a silly, but hysterical scene in Act 1 with simulated sex between two prostitutes and Bateman with ridiculous projections. I read that lots of people hated this but by the time the end of Act 1 rolls around, you’ve already forgotten it’s happened because you’re enjoying the rest of it so much.

The audience was largely a theatre crowd. You could tell that they hadn’t read the book because they gasped when Bateman invites Jean to his apartment before they see a show. She doesn’t die in the book and she doesn’t even have much of a role in the movie, so they would never have killed her off in this adaptation.

Benjamin Walker was so, so good. He’s a playing a character who is a genuinely bad person but I felt sorry for him at times, especially when he was being ignored. All Bateman wants is to fit in and he feels invisible; that’s just sad. He has a much better voice, in my opinion, than Matt Smith does and I hope they plan to record this soon (as far as I know, they don’t). 

It clocked in at 2 hours and 45 minutes, which is long, but the book is 400 pages and a vast majority of it is in Bateman’s mind. When he’s really losing coherence in Act 2, there’s a lot of dialogue to try to express this. He’s covered in blood, dressed in his tighty whiteys and he realizes there’s no way out (This Is Not An Exit). It’s a heavy second act, though I’m not sure what you could cut to make it shorter. 

You could say this is a representation of how society in America completely ignore mental illness if said-mentally ill person has an outward appearance that satisfies us. Even if that person tells us they’re going out of their minds and want to kill people, we’re more likely to say, “great joke!” than take it seriously. Bateman’s pleas for help are ignored by his friends and family. 

To say I had a good time at American Psycho is an understatement. Is it a perfect show? No. Is it for everyone? No. I could imagine the New York Times panning it’s non-traditional but I hope word-of-mouth and the cult following that the book and movie have can make it a hit. 

There was a great energy inside the theatre on Tuesday night and I hope they can sustain the momentum they’ve been building and take your average Broadway audience by surprise.

This Is How All The Bret Easton Ellis Novels Fit Together

Someone posted this recently and I was super intrigued. I would think that there are probably other writers out there who have done this but the only one that I’ve read that comes to mind is Emily Giffin. Giffin’s characters are somewhat related in three of her books, but how Ellis put characters from one book into another who supposedly were killed by Bateman in American Psycho is super cool. It actually made me want to read all of his books. But.

BUT.

I’m currently reading American Psycho…. and it’s a painful read. Bateman and his friend’s shallow materialism and his need to identify where every last item on his person came from is dreadful. I’ve been reading it for a couple of weeks now and I’m only 160 pages in (out of 400-ish). I’m starting to lose hope that I’ll finish it. But I think I have to. i know that I’m not required to finish every book I start but I like to. We’ll see what happens.

In other news: American Psycho the musical is getting pretty good reviews from regular people. I know it’s going to be a super polarizing show (not every one will like a musical about a banker who’s going insane and killing his friends) but I read that the first look you get in the show is amazing and so far everything is impressive. Currently it’s super long (just under 3 hours) but I’m sure they’ll cut it down a bunch before April 5th.

Has anyone else read American Psycho? 

This Is How All The Bret Easton Ellis Novels Fit Together

Hamilton & Hennessy

After the final performance of The Wild Party on Saturday night, a few friends and I headed over to Urbo on 42nd and 8th for a party celebrating Hamilton’s first week on Broadway, sponsored for Hennessy. There were fun drinks and fun people – and lots of dancing, oh, and a photobooth. 

The only person I asked to take a picture with was Jonathan Groff and when I asked him if my friend could take a photo, he said, “Oh here, I can take a selfie!” Below is the end result (and more photos after the jump!):

It was a fun night. 

I saw Fun Home towards the end of it’s run at the Public back in December 2013. I really liked it but it was dark as fuck. I finally made it around to see the transfer to Broadway last night, courtesy of The League. I never really thought the transfer was a good idea, but apparently some people did.

After seeing the transfer last night, I think I liked the full 2.5-hour version at the Public more (shocker, I know). The transfer feels semi-gutted. It felt more like a play with music than a musical, to be honest, and I wasn’t a big fan of the score. The score doesn’t do much to drive the plot along. The cast though is phenomenal all around and Cerveris definitely deserved his Tony Award. 

That said, even though I didn’t go head-over-heels for it, I still think it’s an important piece of theatre. Kudos to all involved.

I saw The Visit on Wednesday night and it opened last night. I went to see it because it’s Chita Rivera and you only get so many opportunities to see Chita Rivera onstage. Especially at this point in her life.

The Visit was about a woman who comes back to visit her old hometown after she’s had a lot of husbands die on her and she’s now very wealthy. She reunites with a man she fell in love with when she was a girl, but here’s the twist: he ended up being the reason she was chased out of the town. The town, now in dire need of financial assistance, is stuck in between a rock and a hard place when she says she’ll give them an absurd amount of money (in the billions) if they’ll kill this man.

I have no idea why this made it to Broadway. Well, yes, I do. It’s because Chita signed onto it. Roger Rees was also very good, but not a reason why anyone would sit through this. The show is 90 minutes long and sort of slow and very depressing and pointless. It doesn’t end on a high note. It ends and you’re confused.

Chita has a song and a half that are compelling that she even dances a little bit in, but it’s not enough to sit through the entire 90 minutes. Save your Visit for another show.

A couple of weeks ago I saw an early preview performance of Doctor Zhivago, a new musical currently playing at the Broadway Theatre. I knew nothing about it except that the lead (Tam Mutu) was out, his understudy(Bradley Dean) was flung in on a moment’s notice, and it was based on a dense (of course) Russian novel.

And it was three hours long. WOOT!

I was told it was about a love triangle – or something like that – and it was. Doctor Zhivago runs into a blonde woman who takes his breath away, of course he’s also on his way to his own wedding to an equally as lovely brunette. Isn’t that the way it always works? The show starts when Russia was still the Soviet Union (or at least somewhere in the first few decades of the 20th Century) and continues on until the revolution is over. 

It’s a great historical piece. I learned a lot from it – well, whatever in it was historically accurate. But my goodness, it is long. Doctor Zhivago and the blonde woman sing no less than four songs about how they should be together, etc. etc. and although the score is quite pretty (think Tale of Two Cities meets Scarlet Pimpernel), it’s tiresome. By that four song, I’m like, “Okay, well, GO. Be together!” 

I read the synopsis of the novel afterward and they even cut a lot of book out. Like, a LOT. But the musical is STILL dense. There are tons of characters and it takes itself very seriously, where as, say, The Great Comet of 1812 did not (it even poked fun at itself in the very first song). The cast is uniformly lovely and talented. Bradley Dean kicked some serious ass in this monster of a role that he probably had a few days rehearsal in. 

I’m interested to see how it’s received on Broadway and how it does at the box office. (Spoiler alert: the critics did not review it well last night.)