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).

How five fallen Broadway theaters paved the way for a new Times Square

This is interesting AF. If you’re into NYC or Broadway history, read it.

It goes without saying that I can’t remember a time when the Marriott Hotel wasn’t dead center in the middle of Times Square. This is obviously the case as it was finished in 1985 and I was born in 1986. However, the thing is, I never even thought about a time when it might not have existed. When other buildings would have been in it’s place. Is that crazy? Sort of. I mean, why would I just assume?

I also never thought about the possibility that the city, or landlords more specifically, could fathom tearing down a Broadway theatre. I mean, WHAT? You say you want to do WHAT? I knew Times Square was a shit hole before the mid-90′s, but I never figured Broadway houses were endangered species of the time. 

I know New Yorkers are required to hate this hotel because it’s in Times Square and is thus the enemy, but the Marriott was an escape off the cold city streets when I was a teenager and needed a place to eat my Cosi takeaway sandwich in between the Rent lottery and showtime. I went there after my 21st birthday party and the waitress refused to serve my slightly-under-21-year-old friends. I also spent more than my fair share of time at the Marquis Theatre selling merchandise at various shows. 

But I can’t help but be sad about the loss of these five theatres. Who knows what we’d have playing there. 

How five fallen Broadway theaters paved the way for a new Times Square

Playbills For Sale

I have a handful of Playbills that I found while cleaning out some storage in my apartment and I’m selling them to make some extra $$ while I’m doing yoga teacher training. They are as follows…

  • The Cripple of Inishmaan (1x with Daniel Radcliffe!)
  • Hedwig & the Angry Inch (3x OBRC with Neil Patrick Harris)
  • Closer (1x from The Lyric Theatre in London)
  • Chicago (1x Broadway, 2002)
  • Rent (1x Angel Tour, September 2000 at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts)
  • Rent (1x Broadway, January 2000, 1x November 2004)
  • Rent (1x Broadway, 4000th performance with sticker!)
  • Merrily We Roll Along (1x City Center’s Encores – feat. Lin Manuel Miranda!)
  • American Idiot (2x tour in Boston, January 2012)
  • Waiting For Godot (1x Broadway feat. Patrick Stewart, November 2013)
  • Fences (1x Broadway revival feat. Denzel Washington, May 2010)
  • Murder Ballad (1x off-Broadway, June 2013)
  • The Pirate Queen (1x Broadway, April 2007)
  • Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang (1x Broadway, August 2005, 1x April 2005)
  • Evita (1x Broadway Revival, April 2012)
  • The Boy From Oz (1x OBC with Hugh Jackman November 2003)
  • The Crucible (1x 2016 Broadway Revival)
  • AIDA (1x Broadway 2003)

I’m selling these for $10 each, including shipping. Send me a message if you’re interested! 

20 Years Later, Rent Cast Remember Auditions, Memories and Mishaps | Playbill

I saw Rent 59 times on Broadway and once on tour. I owe many amazing experiences to my love for this show. 

Today is their anniversary. This is a special read. 

20 Years Later, Rent Cast Remember Auditions, Memories and Mishaps | Playbill

I realized I never wrote about seeing the revival of Spring Awakening before I went away. I was under the impression that this production was going to open, be a hit, and sell out it’s short production, so I wanted to see it before I went away. I was so, so excited, yet skeptical, about this revival. I loved the original production so much. I love the score so much. This production was going to be completely different, but I knew that going in. It had a very Once-feel to it when we walked in because the cast was warming up onstage in costume. This is great as I really loved Once, but this wasn’t Once. I missed seeing the bleachers onstage. We were in the first row of the rear mezzanine (thanks, TDF!) and the seats were just fine. The always-excellent Patrick Page, as the adult man, walked by us telling us to quiet down so the show could start, and Marlee Matlin (who apparently is a big deal but I’m unfamiliar with her) walked around in the orchestra doing the same. And the lights went down.

The ASL aspect of this show was a neat addition. It was really affective that Wendla and Moritz had no voices so you could say their lack of ability to speak lead to both of their demises. Maybe that’s stretching. The set felt like they took remnants of Taboo and Rent, fine. The lighting had the same feel.

I’m in the minority but I really ended up missing the original production. This production had the same feel throughout, there was no juxtaposition between the book scenes and the songs. What really helped make that change harsh in the original production was the use of the microphones. For 99% of the revival, there were no microphones. You didn’t get that the characters were singing as their 21st century counterparts (which is, I believe, what the original production intended to do).

It’s still a fine production. It still has a gorgeous score. My favorites, cast-wise, was Sean Grandillo as Otto, Alex Wyse as George, and Katie Boeck as Wendla, and an honorable mention should go to Krysta Rodriguez as Isle. If you know her backstory, it was a bit more meaningful to watch her up there.

If you’ve never seen Spring Awakening, this production is definitely worth your time. It’s playing through January 24th.

Review: Empanada Loca

I was excited to see Daphne Rubin-Vega take on a one-woman show at the Labyrinth Theatre last night and I was not let down at all. She is a much better actress than she is a singer (years of performing Rent and The Rocky Horror Show will do that to you, I suppose).

It was my friend Steve’s first time seeing her live onstage and he was excessively excited. We took our front row seats and waited as the lights went down and DRV came out, in the darkness at first, and started speaking, presumably to us.

Empanada Loca was about a woman named Dolores who was living underneath the subways after what some would consider a challenging life. Her mother was shot, her father died, and then the drug dealer with whom she was in a relationship set her up and she went to prison for 13 years. Loca was inspired by the well-known tale of Sweeney Todd about the barber who would kill his enemies in the barber chair and Mrs. Lovett would bake the human flesh into pies. DRV was essentially a gritty, streetwise Mrs. Lovett, who killed people on her massage table (a trade she’d picked up in the tombs) in her apartment below Empanada Loca and the owner bakes the people into his empanadas. Read on for the twist ending….

The twist? The lights go down and you hear the sounds of her lunging forth at something, the person she’s been talking to. After lighting a trash can on fire, begins roasting a large rat. So, that’s who she’s been talking to the entire time – a rat. We were jolted, having thought she was talking to the audience the entire time. The audience is now aware that she is 100% so we’re left wondering, what was true about her story?

We’ll never know.

DRV really the audiences attention for the entire 100 minutes. This is really worth seeing should you have the chance to make it down to Bank Street. DRV came out rather quickly after the show, and we couldn’t help ourselves to a photo with her. She really is just the sweetest. Oh, and there was definitely a Rent fan there with a Rent t-shirt on which was much appreciated by DRV.

Just two kids who met when they were 11 in the Theatre chatroom on AOL because of a mutual love of Rent with Daphne Rubin Vega. We’re pretty sure our friendship peaked at that moment. 

Empanada Loca – Labyrinth Theater Company

First show since I got back into the country. Wow. It’s been way too long. Going to see this tonight at the Labyrinth Theater down on Bank Street. I originally picked up the tickets because Daphne Rubin-Vega is in it and I don’t know the last time I saw her onstage (oh, wait, it was Les Miserables but I’ve tried as hard as possible to forget that production). 

After a quick Google search to figure out what the hell this is about, I come to find out that this is a one-woman-show. To say I’m excited doesn’t cut it. 

(Bonus: there’s no intermission.)

Empanada Loca – Labyrinth Theater Company

Last Saturday I went to see Manhattan Theatre Club’s off-Broadway production of Lost Lake, by David Auburn, starring Tracie Thoms and John Hawkes. 

I adore Tracie Thoms so I was excited, having not seen her onstage since Rent closed in 2008. Lost Lake was about a single mother who is renting a run-down lake house for a week to get her kids out of the city. It turns out that the owner is in cahoots with his family, broke, and living in his car outside the house while they’re there.

I was pretty sure Hogan, the owner of the  lake house, was going to lose it and kill Veronica (Thoms) at any moment. The whole play was incredibly creepy. Thoms and Hawkes were both excellent, and believable. 

It sort of dragged towards the end and I’m not sure what Auburn’s motive was for writing Lost Lake, but it was okay. Not half bad at all.

The Broadway Star Who Got Away

Am I the only person who didn’t know she had officially ‘left the industry’? I just thought she was doing other things – or I just didn’t really think about where she was at all. 

It was an interesting read and good for her for making that choice and relocating. Although she is awesomely talented, there are probably 150 other girls out there who are just as talented and waiting to take her spot so to say we “lost” a star is a bad way of looking at it. She gave another star out there a chance to shine, one who’d really appreciate it. At least for the time being!

The Broadway Star Who Got Away