So I managed to score a balcony seat about half an hour before the final performance of The Wild Party at City Center last night. I was far away but I was only there for the music and the acoustics were great. I knew about many of the changes but I was trying to keep an open mind.

Let me start by saying that Steven Pasquale was a perfect Burrs. PERFECT. He was vocally stunning and even from far away, I believed all of his choices. My other favorite was Miriam Shor as Madeline True. So fantastic. Joaquina Kalukango had a great voice as Kate but I didn’t like her acting choices. Brandon Victor Dixon as Black made great choices but his riffing was too non-stop and out of the ordinary. I guess I just wasn’t used to his scatting as opposed to Taye Diggs’. 

Then there’s Sutton Foster. Broadway royalty, I know. Whatever. I was sitting next to a Sutton fanboy and it was almost unbearable. Anyways: She could only sing about 1/3 of the score and there were parts where she couldn’t even be bothered to try to belt it. And she is definitely not a blonde and the wig looked awful. Her acting choices were fine though, maybe I’d even say good. 

Now to the changes: There were so many lyric changes for NO REASON WHATSOEVER. They changed the entire refrain (not to mention title) of “Come With Me” to “You and Me.” It was so pointless. 

And the beginning? Awkward. SO awkward. What I gathered from it was that it opened at one of Queenie’s vaudeville acts and then it went to her and Burrs’ apartment. I don’t know. I could be completely wrong. I don’t under why they’d cut Queenie Was a Blonde and Out of the Blue. They’re two such important songs to the exposition of the characters and setting up the plot. I mean “Queenie was a blonde” is the first line of the poem that The Wild Party is based on. I could only imagine how confused the people were around me who had no familiarity with the show at all. 

Overall, I enjoyed it for what it was – a great score with a few great performances. I’m glad I saw it. It was kind of neat to think that we were watching it in the building above the theatre where it was originally staged 15 years ago.  Maybe next time though they can cast a Queenie who can sing the score in it’s entirety… Just a thought. 

Review: ‘The Wild Party,’ With Sutton Foster as a Louche Jazz Baby

I’m supposed to go see this tomorrow but I’m rethinking it now. Is it really worth my $25 to see a show that’s been so massively gutted of arguable important songs? I know The Wild Party from it’s 2000 staging cast recording, which is one of my top 10 favorite scores ever, and from working on it in college. I listened to the score over and over and over. I love it. 

I’ve only scanned this review, but I heard last night from Kristen that they cut Out of the Blue, Queenie Was a Blonde, all of the I Want songs, and Lippa wrote a terrible new song for Foster that, I think according to the New York Times review, was called “Happy Endings.” This sounds like it’s suffering from the same thing that High Fidelity on Broadway suffered: adding a happy ending to a show that’s not supposed to have a happy ending. Kristen has corrected me. This is not the case. Good.

Everyone’s saying Sutton Foster is miscast. No surprise there. It seemed that way from the trailer that came out. I don’t really like Steven Pasquale, as talented as he might be, but people are saying he’s very good. Kate is black – which doesn’t make sense for the songs she sings (the south will rise again? really? you want that?!). And the dude playing Black never stops riffing. 

I have no idea if I want to experience this show without those vital songs. But do I want to miss a trainwreck production of this show? Probably not. I’ll probably go. People are saying they cut those songs because Foster has had bronchitis and can’t sing back-to-back 11′o’clock numbers like that. To that I say: Fire her, or she should’ve stepped down. 

Alternatively: throw Julia Murney some cash to play Queenie. Like god and Andrew Lippa intended. 

Review: ‘The Wild Party,’ With Sutton Foster as a Louche Jazz Baby

As long as I’m still under 35, I’m going to take advantage of HipTix as I did a couple of weekends ago when I saw a preview of Violet at Roundabout’s American Airlines Theatre. I’d worked on a production of the show during my junior year of college and I loved the music and the show, despite it’s heaviness in religion. I’d really wanted to catch the weekend-only workshop at Encore’s last year but I was thrilled when Roundabout announced it as part of their season.

The star of Violet is really Joshua Henry as Flick. He brings down the house every time he opens his mouth and you almost forget that Sutton Foster is even in the cast. That’s not to say that Foster isn’t great – she is, as she always is, but Henry just steals the show. Colin Donnell was also pretty great as Flick’s partner-in-crime, Monty. 

Violet is simple, not flashy, and beautifully sung by a top-notch cast. Good job, Roundabout. 

Last week was unofficially “Second Stage Week” for Matt and I.  We ventured on Tuesday to Second Stage’s main stage to see one of the final previews of Trust, starring Sutton Foster, Bobby Carnavale, Zach Braff, and Ari Gaynor.

I was intrigued by the cast, especially the fact that Foster was playing a dominatrix and not her usual ingenue-type role.   I also adore Zach Braff and Ari Gaynor.  

This is a pointless but highly entertaining script that tells the story of a billionaire (Braff) and how a visit to see a dominatrix (Foster) changes his life, as well as his depressed wife’s (Gaynor).  Carnavale plays Foster’s abusive boyfriend who doesn’t do all that much aside from blackmailing Braff.  

We laughed all the way through, and everyone in the cast was believable and entertaining.  They all did their jobs well.  

Trust plays at Second Stage through September 12th.  More information can be found here.  

(photo via)

This Week in Theatre

So, there were a few exciting announcements this week in the theatre world.  Let’s recap:

  • The rest of the cast for Leap of Faith at Center Theatre Group/Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles was announced!  I’m very excited because Kendra Kassebaum will be gracing the stage again with her talents – though I probably won’t get to LA to see it, I’m looking forward to the reviews. 
  • Did everyone hear that rehearsals for the much-anticipated Spider-Man musical are finally going to start? (Or recommence rather?)  I guess they finally found capital to get the project going again.  We’ll see how far they get before they close shop again.  The producers have had the Hilton Theatre on hold for many months now.  How much longer will we have to see those marquees before they light up?  Who knows.  
  • Roundabout Theatre Company announced that Anything Goes, starring Sutton Foster, is scheduled to start previews at the Stephen Sondheim Theatre (formerly the Henry Miller Theatre) April 7th, 2011.  I’m excited to see what RTC will do with this, but I’m less excited for Foster to star.  She’s very talented but in the last few shows I’ve seen her in, she’s started to phone it in.  
  • Daniel Radcliffe was announced as the star of the film version of the West End hit play The Woman in Black (not to be confused with the 2006 Broadway flop The Woman in White).  I was a huge fan of this play when I saw it in London in 2007.  I’m not sure why it hasn’t been brought to Broadway, but I’m very excited to see it on the big screen.  

Those are my highlights.  What were yours?