Friday, April 14, 2006

The Broadway Hour - 4/13/2006

Here's the wonderful playlist of this past show. I hope you all got to listen to it!

Monday, April 10, 2006

Wonderful Town - The 5th Avenue

How on earth can two struggling artist Ohio sisters make it in the art world in the big vortex of New York? For starters, they can be each others' best friend and can have great influence over everyone around them, for one reason or another.

The set of this production is, by far, the most impressive aspect. This is not to belittle the rest of the production in any extent. The set is simply incredible. The stage opens in an enlarging square with three boards going off in every different direction to bring to life the world in which the play resides. The artsy and postcard-like backdrops and set pieces added to the whimsical and cute world where Eileen and Ruth must survive. Up until the very end, the set continues to give the audience surprises in its capacity for splendor. Neon signs and catwalks evolve from the quaint park scenes to bring this show to a spectacular finale.

Bill Berry's direction creates a production of this show that is as good as anyone can do it. Though the show itself is overly cheesy and predictably cute, this production does a very good job of performing it. Berry's work in organizing a balance of set, lighting and talent is extremely skillful. Sarah Rudinoff's performance as Ruth Sherwood is breathtaking. Her delivery of every line and her vocal skill makes for a wonderfully entertaining character. Her sister, Eileen, played by Billie Wildrick, is also very well done. She fit the role vocally and physically and plays the character as well as anyone could. The high point, musically, of this show, for me, is the Patrolmen's song "Darlin' Eileen." The vocal blend is as smooth as a fine glass of creamy chocolate milk. There are overdone aspects, though. David Pichette's work in the role of Appopolous seems very overacted and overblown, as does Greg Michael Allen's work as Speedy Valenti.

On the whole, this is a cute show. It's nothing spectacular that anyone must rush out to see, which is probably a good thing since the run is over.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The Broadway Hour 4/6/2006

Here's the playlist for last Thursday's show if you're wondering what you heard or, if you weren't listening, what you missed!

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Cyrano de Bergerac - Seattle Shakespeare Company

Whatever you do, don't mention the nose... for it is the one thing that stands between Cyrano de Bergerac and the love of his life, the sweet, beautiful, witty and perfect Roxane.

Edmond Rostand's play based on the real Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655) is a semi-accurate depiction of the famous hero/poet/philosopher. Though aspects are exaggerated and, at times, entire ideals completely changed, the life of dueling and schooling is very correct. Stephanie Shine's direction of this production with the help of all her technical support, especially Gordon Carpenter (fight choreography), is a good portrayal of this famous and historical legend.

Technically, the swordplay is the most impressive aspect. The set, by John Kirschenbaum, is simple and quaint yet fitting and the costumes, by Deborah Skorstad, are accurate and just elaborate enough. The main weight of this show on stage is carried by Scott Coopwood playing Cyrano de Bergerac. His work in this role is remarkable. His "panache" is to die for and his comic jabs and flowering verse has the audience captivated. His colleagues are not so strong, unfortunately. Though good for the most part, those in more leading roles are weak and seem even more so next to Coopwood.

Though it is a wonderful and humorous yet tragic story, this production lacks exactly what Coopwood brings forth the most, the panache.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

The Turn of the Screw - Meydenbauer Center, Bellevue

When two children are left alone to be attended by two abusive guardians and a housekeeper, their story can become rather twisted. When their new Governess comes to relieve the housekeeper after the former Governess and the Valet pass on, she has more work ahead of her than she could have anticipated. When she's confronted with restless spirits and reluctant children, she has to find a way to save them all.

Benjamin Britten's operatic adaptation of Henry James's short story is an eerily moving production. Under the direction of Peter Kazara and Donald Eastman's fabulously dark and almost Tim Burton-esque set design, it becomes even more wonderfully disturbing.

It is a rare pleasure to see a male soprano perform live and David Korn provides this opportunity for the audience of "The Turn of the Screw." When he begins to sing, one looks around the stage to find where the beautiful soprano voice is coming from until one realizes that it is, in fact, David. His magnificent voice aside, his performance of Miles is appropriately dark and creepy while still childishly sweet and innocent. Alexis Martin's performance in the role of the Governess is extremely strong. It is a large role to carry and she does a fantastic and powerful job. Elizabeth Schultz (Miss Jessel) and Ted Schmitz (Peter Quint/Narrator) also carry their roles with power and intensity. Elizabeth's reaching and grasping movements with her fixed eyes make for a very creepy Miss Jessel and Ted's forceful singing let him exude a feeling of power.

All-in-all, a very well-done show and extremely entertaining. It's certainly no "Singin' in the Rain" and thank goodness! We all need a break from that once an a while to take a trip down the road of darkness.

Broadway Hour Playlist 3/30/2006

Here's what you heard, or missed if you didn't listen, on Thursday morning:

The Pillowman - ACT

A not-so-classic case of the classic "who dun it?" Fairy tales gone to the extreme in violence and gruesomeness come true in a totalitarian dictatorship police state and end in the interrogation of the writer and his mentally disabled brother. The question remains: who acted out the stories of this writer and why?

A prison cell can be a hard to create in a theater-in-the-round setting. However, for set designer Matthew Smucker it was a simple task of extraordinary skill. The retracting concrete detention cell and the hidden set in the ceiling are feats of incredible engineering magnificence. Additionally, the original score by Adam Stern and the sound designs of Dominic CodyKramers create the feeling of soul-gripping suspense and reality in this surreal journey from the mind of writer Martin McDonagh.

Matthew Floyd Miller's portrayal of Katurian - the struggling writer of gruesome child-murder stories with the disabled brother Michal - played by Shawn Telford - is something to be savored for days after seeing the performance. Telford's work of playing a somewhat mentally disabled man was impressive at many times but inconsistently so. The shining stars of this production, though, are Denis Arndt as Detective Tupolski and R. Hamilton Wright as Detective Ariel. Arndt's flawless acting is absolutely unbelievable and Wright's dramatic skills of bringing forth fear not only in his torture victim but the audience itself is undeniable.

"The Pillowman" as directed by Kurt Beattie is an astounding show that brings the audience to the bare intersection where disturbing horror meet utter comedy and does it wonderfully.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat - The Paramount

Those Canaan days certainly are colorful, bright, exciting, eccentric and wonderful. The lights, the sounds, the dances and the songs will stick with you for days afterwards and you won't once wonder "why's the song stuck in my head?"

In the struggle to be Dad's favorite, Joseph clearly takes the cake. However, his other eleven brothers are rather resentful of Jacob's love of Joseph. What better way to make way for their betterment in their Father's eyes than to get rid of Joseph? But who can resist the charm of Joseph and his incredible ability to read dreams like books? Certainly not the elite or even Pharaohs.

The most striking aspects of this show are the set, lights and dance numbers. Rick Belzer's lighting adaptation is magical at least. The final was worth the price of admission alone. The colors and impacts of the lights are on par with big concerts and light shows. James Fouchard's set is also rather magical. The sky holding pyramids that fly away to reveal Jacob's home or the Pharaoh's pad while trees and seating arrangements come from the wings almost unnoticed. Arlene Phillips' choreography is worthy of professional dance shows. The moves look so easy for the dancers but impossible for anyone else yet so much fun!

For all the hype about Patrick Cassidy as Joseph, his performance is one of the more lacking performances in the show. His portrayal of Joseph is much too proud and his vocal skills, as impressive as they are, seem too nasal and like they're trying to hard to sound impressive. His performance was good, but definitely couldn't stand up next to most of the rest of the cast. Lisa Christine, standing in for Amy Adams, as the Narrator is very strong, but seems rather timid for the Narrator. It is understandable that she'd be nervous, though. She was, after all, standing in for Amy Adams on opening night. Todd Dubail, in his role of the Pharaoh, rocked and rolled. His voice fit the part wonderfully and his portrayal of this rock-n-roll Pharaoh was the most lively and exciting part of the show.

Altogether, a worthwhile and fun show. Technically amazing and vocally impressive, this show is a great intro to musical theater for anyone who's never seen a musical. Though not the best show I've seen this year and not perfect, it is a fun show and certainly worth the price of admission.

The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee - Post Street Theater, San Francisco

I come to you now to prepare the Seattle audiences for this hysterical romp through the life of a twelve-year-old spelling champion for the Paramount's upcoming season.

Though they may seem strange in school and in public and at home and at social events, they seem, well, still strange at the spelling bee. But boy can they spell! But what happens when love, spite, bad luck, divine intervention, and audience members who can spell interfere with the sanctity of the Spelling Bee? What happens is this play.

The Post Street Theater is the perfect venue for this production. It's small, intimate size actually feels like the setting of the play, a school gymnasium. However, one could perform this play in any space and it will be equally fantastic. Beowulf Boritt's set design in incredible. Flying backdrops of school gym and beautiful horizon back the simple desk and chairs of the majority of the stage. Jennifer Caprio's costume designs stay very true to the recent original production of this show. Awkward, strange, and unusual-for-a-twelve-year-old styles enhance the bizarre nature of these kids. James Lapine directed this play perfectly. Training actors not to laugh at hilarious and unexpected occurrences and the comedic timing are impeccable.

Rona Lisa Peretti, the former champion of the Bee and current Real Estate agent/co-host of the Bee - played by Betsy Wolfe - is your quintessential all-too-peppy Real Estate agent and pseudo-philosopher. Wolfe's talents are wonderfully fitting for this show. Her big voice and slightly-too-sweet looks fit fantastically. Douglas Panch - the vice principle of the school - played by Jim Cashman - is wonderfully bizarre himself. His delivery of the definitions and sentences about the words for the spellers are wonderfully fun. The group of actors playing the spellers are all equally amazing. Characters from the boyscout/last year's champion to the nerd with chronic congestion to the tragic ignored children come together "in perfect syzygy" in this production.