Thursday, April 19, 2007

Ding Dong the LOSER'S GONE!

American Idol fans - rejoice!

I have been complaining for weeks now to my friends about Sanjaya Malakar and the fact that he had last so long on America's favorite singing competition. But this weeks Country theme was the final straw... HOORAY!

I mean the kid well; I'm sure he's a very nice boy. Maybe he can go be on Gilmour Girls or Smallville, or any lame teeny-bopper show for that matter. But please, let's keep him off the airwaves and out of the music industry!

On a much more positive note:

Ya'll know I love Jordin Sparks, and have since the very beginning. She really sang the crap out of "A Broken Wing" last night. Amazing performance! And she looked gorgeous, as always. And to try that song when the original power-house behind the hit was the coach?

My girl Jordin is Ballsy! So here's the video... in case you missed it!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Mediocre, but for a good cause...

Last night, my friend Michelle and I went to see a charity concert of "The Rocky Horror Tribute Show". I admit that my motivation in going wasn't a philanthropic need to support Breast Cancer research and treatment. It was more a selfish need to see Howie Michael Smith half-naked on stage... (And may I just tell you - it was worth it!)

I know I sound like an obsessed teenage girl, but I truly think that the boy is incredibly talented. In my opinion, he was one of only three that looked like they had any business being on a Broadway stage.

First, there was Neil Patrick Harris. We all know him as "Doogie Howser", or more recently as "Barney" from the desperately un-funny How I Met Your Mother on CBS. Fortunately, Harris is actually a very talented comedian, and was wonderful in the role of "The Narrator". There were quite a few "shout outs" from the audience, poking fun at his breakthrough role and his career now. He moved on the audience comments with sharp timing and hilarious comebacks. He is a wonderful live performer, and without a doubt the BEST part of this production.

Then there was Howie Michael Smith(left). Yes, we all know that I am a fan, but from unbiased standpoint the boy is still pretty wonderful. His vocal range is huge! He is a very charismatic actor, and it's not surprising that he is starring in another Broadway production at the moment. His numbers were wonderful and a bright spot in this admittedly lack-luster production.

Last, but not necessarily least, was Kevin Cahoon as "Dr. Frank". There were moments when I wasn't sure whether or not I was watching a Broadway production, or a drag show. Irregardless, his performance was wonderful. It was nearly impossible not to watch him when he was on the stage. And while I think it could be argued that his character was more "late night drag show host" than "demonically mad transvestite alien scientist", (Not that I could even really tell you what the difference is anyway... I'm just sayin'.), it was fun and far better than most everyone elses performance.

The rest of the cast seemed either incredibly amateur or really unprofessional. Rachel Helson ("Janet" and 18 year old founder of Acting for the Cure) was cute, but really young and really weak. Michael Sutherland ("Brad") was also very inexperienced and weak. To their defense, they are both freshman pursuing BFA's in acting. I'm sure for what they are they are really good. But putting them next to seasoned performers on the Broadway stage? It just seemed cruel.

The most disappointing thing about the production were the three leads that were played by Broadway veterans that didn't deliver. David Burtka, Kate Reinders, and Cathy Trien all starred in Broadway's Gypsy with Bernadette Peters. And all three delivered tepidly mediocre performances that were unprofessional and seemingly unrehearsed. I understand that this show is supposed to incorporate a sense of improvisation, but they were just unprepared.

Rocky Horror is a cult show for a reason. If you are not part of it, chances are you won't enjoy it. The audience participation and "script" make it next to impossible to understand what is transpiring on the stage. I didn't really know what the show was about. And I still don't. But am I sad that I went?

No. Like I said, Howie Michael Smith is great. And it was fun to see Neil Patrick Harris. So I was content.

And, after all, it was for a good cause...

(Photo from left to right: Kevin Cahoon, Rachel Helson, Michael Sutherland, Howie Michael Smith, David Burtka, Cathy Trien, and Kate Reinders)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Broadway's "Avenue Q"

I'm sure most everyone is already familiar with this show. I'm sure most everyone has heard the soundtrack, or is at least vaguely familiar with the concept of "Avenue Q". I knew the soundtrack by heart when I walked into the theater last night. It was my first time ever seeing the show, yet I had to consciously stop myself from singing along with the opening number.
All of my high expectations were met. I already knew most of the jokes, and their respective punchlines, but the actors delivered everything with a fresh edge that had me laughing out loud from lights up until the curtain call.

Right now the show is starring Howie Michael Smith. And may I say -- YUM. Not only is he one of the most attractive people I've seen on Broadway, he's also one of the more talented! His precisive character vocals and child-like engagement in the puppetry was astounding. You couldn't help but smile whenever he was on stage (nor could I help but blush!) The female lead, Mary Faber, was also spot on. Both actors were flawless, especially when voicing two different puppets that were on stage at the same time. It was amazing to me that their 'voices' never mushed together to sound mostly the same. The talent in every regard for both of these leads was hugely impressive.

The rest of the cast was good. Christmas Eve (played by Ann Sanders) was slightly inconsistent in her Asian-mocking dialect. Trekkie Monster and Nicky (voiced by Christian Anderson) were both engaging, if not standing out. Gary Coleman (played by Haneefah Wood) was funny, but only when the joke was centered on the character. Otherwise the performance was pretty lazy. Brian (played by Evan Harrington) was actually the worst of the cast. Every line fell off at the end, and the poor fool just never found a comedic beat to save his life. And the ensemble players? Well, they're ensemble for a reason…

The show lives on punchlines and shock-humor, and boy, does it deliver! Even with mediocre performances from the cast (excluding Smith and Faber!) the show was nothing but loveable and hilarious. I would definitely recommend it to anyone (except maybe not my mother…) even if they are familiar with it already. There are a few surprises that don't exist on the soundtrack, and seeing the show really solidifies the plotlines' progressions.

Monday, April 9, 2007

Not enough of a Good Thing...

I just needed to take a moment to bid farewell to "The Black Donnelly's". If you never saw it, you probably never will. And you have been cheated out of a well written and well acted TV drama starring very hot boys. But "The Black Donnelly's" now are on their way to the realms of shows barely remembered.

To Tommy, Shawn, Kevin, and yes even Jimmy...
(But mostly Tommy and Shawn...)

You'll be missed!

(Damn you, NBC... Damn you!)

Omigod!..."Legally Blonde" on Broadway!

Last Wednesday I went to see "Legally Blonde", the newest addition to the Broadway Playbill list. The show started previews last Tuesday, and opens later this month. The show is directed by Jerry Mitchell of Broadway Choreographer fame, and stars Laura Bell Bundy who you may remember from the original cast of "Hairspray".
So, you've seen the movie. And you know the story. I was admittedly a little nervous about how the show was going to translate. But Omigod you guys, I loved it!

So it opens at the sorority house with the number "Omigod!" I promise you - you will leave the theater singing this song. It takes us right into the story. Elle and her sisters get excited because she thinks she is getting proposed to when in reality she is getting broken up with. She follows her boyfriend to Harvard where she doesn't fit in, but she starts to realize that she actually has a bunch of potential when mentored by the hot T.A. And then of corse she is assigned to work on a case for a sorority sister that she is eventually but fully in charge of and wins, thrusting her into the spotlight as a law school star after being hit on my her creepy professor. There aren't any new tricks up the writers sleeves. There ARE however some fabulously hilarious new jokes and musical numbers!

For example, you don't miss the line about "last season's Prada shoes" when the courtroom breaks out into "Is he gay? Or European?!", without a doubt the funniest number in the show. The character Brooke Windam is far more interesting in the stage version, when we are introduced to her character at the start of Act II as if we were watching her workout video - insert hot sweaty muscle-bound jump-roping chorus boys here!

"Legally Blonde" has all the makings of a Broadway smash: huge production numbers, catchy tunes, and a beautiful and talented cast.

The star of the show is Laura Bell Bundy, and not just because she is the main character. The second she appears you are immediately on her side. She carries the same lovable charisma on stage as I've only seen very few actresses muster, and puts her in a whole other class of Broadway performers with the likes of Sutton Foster and Kristin Chenoweth. You can't help but grin ear-to-ear when she is onstage.
The most impressive thing to me was the amount of emotional payoff Bundy was able to create. Elle Woods is a fun character, but in the film you didn't develop the real attachment that you get in the live version. After her professor hits on her, and then fires her, she sings on of two emotional ballads in the production which left me breathless. I loved the movie, but I never wanted to cry for Elle like I did last Wednesday. It was an amazing character transformation.
But don't worry, it doesn't stay serious all that long! After all, this isn't the kind of show you go to to have your core shaken and your beliefs challenged.

The show is just different enough from the film that it manages to feel like a brand new experience. It's a brilliantly fun, fast paced show with high kicks, pop references, and gays gays everywhere! It carries the same excitement and appeal that "Hairspray" and "Mamma Mia" brought to Broadway. I would highly recommend the show to anyone of any age from any walk of life!