Turn and face the strange.

This review is extremely late and probably totally irrelevant, but here goes. After the aforementioned Meatball Chowdown earlier this month, Matt invited me to a press performance of Lazarus, the new David Bowie musical at NYTW. The entire run was sold out and Cristin Milioti and Michael Esper were starring in it, as well as Michael C. Hall. Based on the movie The Man Who Fell to Earth, which Bowie starred in, it’s about an alien who comes to earth to get water for his dying planet.

Or so the short summary on IMDB says. I didn’t really get that from the show that I saw. To say it was odd and confusing is an understatement. There was a young girl in it, who kind of narrated Newton’s, the alien who fell to earth’s, venture and the actress who played her, Sophia Anne Caruso, was amazing. I can’t wait to see what she does next. Michael Esper played Valentine who’s in a somewhat tempestuous relationship with Elly (Cristin Milioti). Newton is played excellently by Michael C. Hall, who also happened to be my first Emcee in Cabaret in 2000. #throwback

I don’t remember much of the score or any more of the plot. It was really odd. It was really fun to watch and you can tell everyone up there is having a great time. Since the run sold out, I guess that’s what’s important (probably not, but let’s say yes for the time being). 

Do I think this’ll transfer? No. If it does, producers will have learned nothing from last season’s The Last Ship which everyone thought would do fantastically because Sting’s name was attached to it and, spoiler alert, it closed rather quickly. 

I loved seeing Cristin Milioti and Michael Esper onstage though. As always. 

Last Thursday night I saw ONCE for the first time in two years since it was in previews in 2012. I’d forgotten (almost) how beautiful this show is. The cast was almost completely different but it was still the same show. We somehow ended up in the front row on the right side, which was kind of amazing too. 

I felt almost like a newcomer to the show after not seeing it for two years and I think it’s held up beautifully. Paul Alexander Nolan is a great “Guy” and Joanna Christie is enjoyable as “Girl” (though I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss Milioti a bit).

If you haven’t seen this one in a while, give it another go. I’ll be seeing it again for sure in another 2 years. 

Tickets were provided by the production. 

Smash: The Phenomenon

I haven’t been watching Smash this season (because… the writing, just.. enough said) but when I saw a former classmate complain how they blatantly ripped off Rent and the backstory on last night’s episode, I was intrigued and went on Hulu to watch it.

I was a little lost, to say the least, but as soon as they announced that one of the writers of their show had died, it immediately resonated with me. I remember reading about Rent’s road to New York Theatre Workshop, Jonathan Larson’s death, the transfer to Broadway, and everything else when I was 11. I poured over the “bible,” as it was called, for hours, reading all of the passages. Years later when I befriended a person who happened to be an original cast member since it’s off-Broadway production, I asked in an interview with him once, “What did it feel like when you heard that Jonathan had died?” And all he could say was, “I felt like I lost a very good friend.”

One of the complaints was that last night’s episode ripped off the backstory of Rent without even acknowledging the show. Well, I think it would’ve been a bit too cheesy, and more meta than necessary, to add in a line something like, “this is exactly like what happened to Rent!”

Duh. We’re theatre people watching this show. And if we’re good theatre people, we know the story. On the wall of Jesse L. Martin’s character’s office was a Rent poster from the run at New York Theatre Workshop. I think that was homage-paying enough. 

I think Smash is horribly written, but I appreciated this episode. It was a flashback to the mid-late nineties and my childhood. 

Smash: The Phenomenon

My Top 13 Theatre Moments (or Shows!) of 2012

I was going through my theatre-related posts of this year and I couldn’t pick just 10. Since this is my blog and I make the rules, I decided to do 13. 

1. Bring It On: I had my doubts and reservations about this musical, and maybe I’m a little biased after working on it for a few months, but I loved this show. It was visually stunning, fun, and not totally void of meaning. It had a good meaning overall: Life goes on after high school. I love this show, I’m sad it closed yesterday, and I will definitely miss it.

2. Merrily We Roll Along @ Encores: I went to the final performance and it was my first time having seen it – though I’d heard the music before. The cast was fantastic, as was the material. The atmosphere was also electric. Everyone was so excited to be there.

3. The Other Josh Cohen: This was just a gem of a show. I’m so glad I got to see it.

4. Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? revival: I had reservations about this too, having seen the last revival with Kathleen Turner, but upon being offered a free ticket, who was I to turn it down? It ended up being pretty incredible. It was probably one of the best things to open on Broadway this fall.

5. Harvey @ Studio 54: A supposed allegory for homosexuality in the mid-20th century, Jim Parsons killed his roll and this show. Loved it.

6. The Bad and the Better (by The Amoralists): I love The Amoralists. This show was a complex story with many layers and a huge cast. It was pretty epic. I don’t know how they afforded to do it, but they definitely did.

7. James Corden in One Man, Two Guv’nors: I loved this play and I probably loved it because James Corden was so goddamn funny. He absolutely killed onstage. He deserved his TONY Award.

8. The Lyons: I saw this play off-Broadway and loved, and saw it twice more on Broadway. I loved it every single time. Probably because Linda Lavin reminded me of my late Jewish grandmother. And… Michael Esper.

9. Once’s Transfer to Broadway: I think the producers transfered this show well. Not much got lost in the bigger space in the Jacobs Theatre and the spirit of the show remained intact. I loved it off-Broadway and it made me cry (twice) on Broadway. I wasn’t sure whether transferring this show was the right thing to do, but I’m happy that they’re doing well ($1 million+/week).  

10. Tribes: This was an off-Broadway show not to be missed. It deserved every bit of praise it received. I loved it a lot possibly because the lead was hearing-impaired so it made it that much more believable, but who knows. It had a healthy run at The Barrow Group and is now going to LA. 

11. Carrie: A cult classic that only existed in bootleg form before MCC revived it. It was cheesy and the music wasn’t so stellar, and I wished there’d been more blood, but it was an experience to be had and seen. I’m definitely glad I paid $20 to sit in the second row. 

12. Jesus Christ Superstar‘s Resurrection: The revival in 2000 wasn’t so good – except for Tony Vincent, duh – but I loved, loved, loved this one, which transferred from the Stratford Theatre Festival. It felt like a digital update, but the incredible rock score was still the intact and the cast was incredible. I don’t care what anyone says, Josh Young was an incredible Judas. I saw this revival twice and my only regret is that I wished I’d seen it again!

13. Assistance: I was an assistant when I saw this so I definitely related. It was hysterical, vulgar, and exaggerated (though I’m sure it’s not so exaggerated for some people). The ending also wins for ‘most unrelated and random ending ever.’ Also: Michael Esper.

That’s my run-down for 2012. There were a dozen or more shows that I saw and didn’t write about (because I suck sometimes), but I’ll try to be better about writing about EVERYTHING in 2013. What were your top theatre moments in 2012? Happy new year!

There are truly no words that do what’s going on at the New York Theatre Workshop right now proper justice. I was told by a friend a few weeks ago, “You HAVE to go see this show, ONCE. It’s amazing.” He’d seen it twice in the last week he loved it so much.  The experience is unique from the very second you walk in the door to NYTW. The cast, who is also the band (but not in the ridiculous John Doyle way), is playing and performing onstage for about an hour before the show. The theatre and audience is completely alive and really confused as to what they’re about to see (and how will we know when it has started?). 

You know though because the characters disperse to their sides of the stage, the lights shift, and our female protagonist makes her way down the house right aisle and onto the stage.  Based on a little known 2006 indie film of the same name, Once tells the story of a chance meeting of a musician and a woman who sees his potential, and all that happens in the following week.

Written by bandmates, and former lovers, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova tell their actual story about how they met through song, and combined with movement by Steven Hoggett, John Tiffany’s direction, and Natasha Katz’s moving lighting the story is seamless and gripping. It never feels too long; you’re not waiting for it to be over at any point. Steve Kazee and Cristina Milioti are both fantastic as the main protagonists (who are simply billed in the program as “GUY” and “GIRL”).

The show feels very Spring Awakening For Adults for sure. My experience yesterday felt very reminiscent of when I saw Spring Awakening for the first time at the Atlantic Theatre Company (only I wasn’t sitting onstage, of course). Everyone who was in high school or college when Spring Awakening happened will surely appreciate Once and even those who weren’t apart of it will find themselves falling in love with these characters, music, and this story. 

I’ll stop before I say too much and just encourage you to please do yourself a favor and go see it, okay? Click onto NYTW’s website here for more information.