I have set lists from Julia Murney’s album release concert, a Tom Kitt Band concert, and a Daphne Rubin Vega concert already framed. #theatrenerd

But now I have these that I also need to frame and then I thought I’d make a collage on my wall. From left to right: Ted Leo, Guster, and Jeff Daniels.

Writing about If/Then is something I’ve been tossing around in my mind for several days now. I saw it two weeks ago in (obviously) amazing seats and I love the cast, but I’m not sure what I thought about the show as a whole.

The show tells the story of a woman named Elizabeth (Menzel) who moves back to New York City after 10 yeas of living with her husband in Arizona and the two ways her life could’ve played out based on one decision in a park the day she returns. I’d heard that it was incredibly confusing in DC and I was sitting (by chance) next to a friend who’d seen it there but said the only difference was that in one of her “lifes” she would put on glasses. This definitely help make things a bit clearer, but things were still a bit confusing.

The score is beautiful and I could definitely relate to Elizabeth’s worrying and overanalyzing personality (unfortunately). Anthony Rapp as her best friend Lucas was wonderful, of course, but I don’t know if I believed that he was in love with Elizabeth. LaChanze brought down the house as per usual when she’s onstage as Elizabeth’s other best friend Kate. James Snyder (Menzel’s husband in one life, Josh) and Jerry Dixon (Menzel’s boss in the other life) were both lovely too.

The bit of confusion in the actual plot aside, I was left wondering why I should really care about Elizabeth. I knew both sides of the story, what was left to wonder? Her story didn’t end up being extraordinary either way. But one thing that I did like the fact that she ended up meeting Josh one way or another.

After seeing the show I learned that it was never meant to be your typical linear story but it was only changed to be that way after the confusion of average theatregoers (who’d probably have been happier watching My Fair Lady) down in DC. I’d love to listen to Kitt and Yorkey talk about writing this…

Anyways, if this review sparked your interest in the show, then you should definitely go see it. 

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. 

I seriously loved Bring It On. I could totally see myself seeing it again. I’d heard positive things and I knew the choreography and stunts were going to be amazing, but I really had such a good time. This is the best example of really good Broadway pop out there. It’s just a really good time.

Taylor Louderman was fantastic as Campbell, as was Adrienne Warren as her arch nemesis-turned-friend Danielle. I found myself unexpectedly loving Ryann Redmond as the socially awkward mascot-turned-cheerleader Bridget. 

I love the way they took inspiration from the series of Bring It On movies and made an entertaining new plot line with a couple of unexpected plot twists. The technical aspects of the show (four large LCD screens, and what looks like about $100k worth of lighting around the stage and proscenium) really added to the show in the best of ways. 

Everyone on that stage is a triple threat, possibly quadruple – could cheerleading count as a 4th ‘threat’? The choreography (by Andy Blankenbuehler) and cheer leading stunts were absolutely breathtaking, to say the least. 

Your eyes won’t know where to look sometimes and your jaw will at times be dropped. You’ll definitely have a good time at the St. James this fall. 

Tom Kitt – where the fuck are you? You’re a fucking genius, man! Thank you SO MUCH. I can never ever thank you enough. I swear you’re going to be on every holiday card for the rest of my life. If your kids need a god parent, I’ll do it! I’ll do the Jewish version ALSO! It’s no problem, I’ll fuckin do it!

Billie Joe Armstrong right before they played their final number, Jesus of Suburbia.  4.24.11

Broadway looses a little part of it’s soul (and sanity) tonight with Next to Normal closing.  It’s had a fantastic, unbelievable, and unexpected two-year run, while winning 3 TONY Awards, and even a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  

I’m incredibly nostalgic about this closing but a friend reminded me that this was the little show that “defied odds and had a great run.”  When you put it that way, there’s absolutely nothing to be sad about.  When I think about Next to Normal, my one regret is the fact that I didn’t get to see it in it’s early stages when it was under the working-title Feeling Electric at NYMF in 2005.  I had every intention to do so, but it sold out too quick and I was not yet a fan of buying tickets ahead of time.  I was able to see it at Second Stage in 2008 though, and although some of the music was electrifying, the second act dragged and I never thought it was going to go anywhere so I was shocked to hear it was being taken to DC’s Arena Stages.  It seemed like an unlikely step if they were on the road to Broadway but it ended up being a necessary one where they worked out all of the kinks that had been discovered in the material at Second Stage.  

I took my mother to see Next to Normal on Broadway in 2009 for Mother’s Day.  Many people have laughed when they heard this, but my mother wanted to see it, and who was I to deprive her of seeing a show that I was also slightly interested in seeing (and see what had changed)?  The second act had definitely been cleaned up and the show was an entirely enjoyable and emotional roller coaster from start to finish.  Their hiatus in DC had been what was needed.  The above picture was taken that Mother’s Day in 2009 after the show of my friend Damien and I (come to think of it, it would’ve been much more appropriate to have gotten a picture of my mother and me but alas, can’t change that now).  

I was really excited to have been introduced to the composer, Tom Kitt, a few days before the TONYs that year at his band’s concert (called The Tom Kitt Band) at The Bitter End (which was a hella good time) where he sang the much, much longer original version of “I Am the One” (from Next to Normal).  I even geeked out for a moment when I remembered that Kitt wrote the score for the short-lived (awesome) musical version of High Fidelity (of which I was a huge fan).  That concert ended up being a load of awesome and was totally worth getting home at 2am for (watch a video of the last half of the finale here).  I asked Kitt to sign the setlist at the end of the night because he was such a totally talented rockstar.  It’s been framed on my wall ever since.

I was rooting for Next to Normal at the Tony’s that year, and was thrilled when they won for Best Score, Best Orchestrations, and Best Actress in a Musical (everyone in the house was just as perplexed with Ripley’s acceptance speech as everyone watching at home was, don’t worry).  Ultimately Billy Elliot took the big award home at the end of night unfortunately.  

I saw Next to Normal again later in 2009, and once more at the end of 2010.  I am incredibly happy that I was able to see it the few times I did.  I debated going to the show once more this weekend, but decided against it.  The last time I saw the show was incredible and I think “last show’s” are something to be savored by the super fans of a show, and the people who were involved in it’s creation. I would’ve felt slightly out of place.  

Congrats to the little show that could.  And did.

Broadway looses a little part of it’s soul (and sanity) tonight with Next to Normal closing.  It’s had a fantastic, unbelievable, and unexpected two-year run, while winning 3 TONY Awards, and even a Pulitzer Prize for Drama.  

I’m incredibly nostalgic about this closing but a friend reminded me that this was the little show that “defied odds and had a great run.”  When you put it that way, there’s absolutely nothing to be sad about.  When I think about Next to Normal, my one regret is the fact that I didn’t get to see it in it’s early stages when it was under the working-title Feeling Electric at NYMF in 2005.  I had every intention to do so, but it sold out too quick and I was not yet a fan of buying tickets ahead of time.  I was able to see it at Second Stage in 2008 though, and although some of the music was electrifying, the second act dragged and I never thought it was going to go anywhere so I was shocked to hear it was being taken to DC’s Arena Stages.  It seemed like an unlikely step if they were on the road to Broadway but it ended up being a necessary one where they worked out all of the kinks that had been discovered in the material at Second Stage.  

I took my mother to see Next to Normal on Broadway in 2009 for Mother’s Day.  Many people have laughed when they heard this, but my mother wanted to see it, and who was I to deprive her of seeing a show that I was also slightly interested in seeing (and see what had changed)?  The second act had definitely been cleaned up and the show was an entirely enjoyable and emotional roller coaster from start to finish.  Their hiatus in DC had been what was needed.  The above picture was taken that Mother’s Day in 2009 after the show of my friend Damien and I (come to think of it, it would’ve been much more appropriate to have gotten a picture of my mother and me but alas, can’t change that now).  

I was really excited to have been introduced to the composer, Tom Kitt, a few days before the TONYs that year at his band’s concert (called The Tom Kitt Band) at The Bitter End (which was a hella good time) where he sang the much, much longer original version of “I Am the One” (from Next to Normal).  I even geeked out for a moment when I remembered that Kitt wrote the score for the short-lived (awesome) musical version of High Fidelity (of which I was a huge fan).  That concert ended up being a load of awesome and was totally worth getting home at 2am for (watch a video of the last half of the finale here).  I asked Kitt to sign the setlist at the end of the night because he was such a totally talented rockstar.  It’s been framed on my wall ever since.

I was rooting for Next to Normal at the Tony’s that year, and was thrilled when they won for Best Score, Best Orchestrations, and Best Actress in a Musical (everyone in the house was just as perplexed with Ripley’s acceptance speech as everyone watching at home was, don’t worry).  Ultimately Billy Elliot took the big award home at the end of night unfortunately.  

I saw Next to Normal again later in 2009, and once more at the end of 2010.  I am incredibly happy that I was able to see it the few times I did.  I debated going to the show once more this weekend, but decided against it.  The last time I saw the show was incredible and I think “last show’s” are something to be savored by the super fans of a show, and the people who were involved in it’s creation. I would’ve felt slightly out of place.  

Broadway Musical Chairs – Well, Not Really.

So it’s not technically musical chairs – no theatre is being “taken away” after the music ends, and no show is being forced to close after it doesn’t get to a theatre fast enough. 

Rock of Ages is closing on January 9th… but it’s re-opening at the Helen Hayes Theatre in March.  No one is quite sure why this is happening, especially with Second Stage’s impending acquisition of the Helen Hayes.

It was also announced that Rain, the Beatles tribute musical, is closing at the Neil Simon Theatre on January 15th and then transferring to the Brooks Atkinson Theatre, re-opening on February 8th for a minimum of 16 more weeks. The producers of Catch Me if You Can have the Neil Simon booked the Simon earlier last year. 

Lastly, it was announced that extraordinary writers behind Next to Normal, Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey, are teaming up again to pitch an idea for a musical vehicle for Robert Downey Jr.  I am just as confused by this as you are, don’t worry.  But I’m sure the TONY winning team won’t disappoint. Playbill updated readers with more news on the story that can be found here.

Some unbelievable occurences, as well as some exciting occurences are going on on the Great White Way in the next couple of months.   What will happen next?  I’m betting a revival of Les Miserables….. but deep down I’m crossing my fingers for a revival of Sunset Boulevard!  We shall see.