Bullets Over Broadway

Sometimes you go to the theater and leave changed by what you just witnessed. Thinking about life differently and all that. Other times you just want to be entertained. And that is exactly what the touring production Bullets Over Broadway at the newly named PrivateBank Theatre did for me last night.

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I was amazed at the choreography and always enjoy tap dancing (especially if it’s a group of mobsters!). Laughter was constant throughout the entire show. And who doesn’t love jokes filled to the brim with sexual innuendos?

The male lead David Shayne, played by Michael Williams, was a mix between NPH, Matthew Morrison, and Gene Kelly. So nothing wrong with that! Very entertaining with great facial expressions. Jemma Jane, who played Olive, did the dumb blonde act perfectly well for someone fresh out of AMDA. My favorite was Cheech played by Jeff Brooks, who played the tough guy gangster who could amazingly write a play that people loved. His character is supposed to be unlikable by nature but instead ends up being a crowd favorite. For a guy that played Gaston in the Beauty and the Beast tour, he plays a goofy “bad guy” perfectly.

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The bad of this show? The jokes sometimes fell flat. Also the set handling. Oh my lord the set handling. You could see the screen said “Bullets Over Broadway” before the fake machine gun fired the “holes” into the backdrop. Not cute. There was one moment for over a minute a brick wall was swaying back and forth. And then the top portion of the Boston “set” couldn’t decide if it wanted to be up or down (or the person operating it couldn’t). It was very much amateur hour up there in terms of the stage handling. Also, the intermission kept going and going after everyone was seated for a good 5 minutes. I didn’t think to clock it but it was a “are we going to start soon” and “why on earth did I leave the bar line 15 minutes ago when they flashed the lights” muttering among the crowd.

Also, can someone tell me what on earth the “Yes! We Have No Bananas” was suppose to be about? I got completely lost after that. And my wife had no clue either.

The staging was sometimes larger than life with the train sequences. The tap-dancing was on point. The extended ovation for “Tain’t Nobody’s Biz-ness If I Do” was well deserved and the highlight of the show. The laughs throughout the theatre were tremendous (side note: there was a gentleman with a laugh SO LOUD he kept scaring everyone around him. Often.). And in the end we learn what matters when it comes to art vs. a human life (or love!). Congrats on another hit and I would love to see the movie if Amazon/Netflix can ever make it available!

And just think…the next show I’ll see here will be Hamilton!  All the squees!

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Matilda the Musical

When I was a kid, we didn’t have much money, but one thing I always got if I asked for it was new books. I grew up watching Sesame Street and learning to read before I was 5 years old. So needless to say when I was younger and read Matilda I found a kid I could identify with (except the parents being awful to her that is!).

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I’ve entertained going to Matilda the Musical a few times, and then a partnership with work aligned this so I could go opening night here in Chicago. And I was absolutely blown away and this went beyond my expectations.  Sometimes with traveling shows, the production value can drop – some a bit and some a lot (yikes Mamma Mia!). This one? Based on the photos, reviews, a clips I’ve seen, this was the exact show that is currently on the West End.

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Matilda is an amazing story about a very special child. One who is not appreciated by her parents and treated terribly. School would seemingly be her escape, except that the headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, is even more vile. Matilda finds that she can be herself around her teacher, Miss Honey, and the two immediately form a bond.

The musical stays true to the original material and is more magical than I ever would have expected. It is one thing to watch the movie, because through the power of movies, you can show a little girl being thrown around by her pigtails. But the fact that they even did this in the stage production thrilled me. I just assumed they would mention that Miss Trunchbull did such a horrid thing to a student!

The musical numbers get stuck in your head for weeks, trust me. “Naughty” reminds you that sometimes a person needs a bit of mischief. “Revolting Children” makes you want to cheer for the kids as they are indeed, revolting against Trunchbull! But the song that sticks out the most for me is “When I Grow Up” and I can only imagine that is because it speaks not only to the children but to the adults as well. Before seeing the show, I read the Chicago Tribune’s Chris Jones’ love for this exact song and thought it sounded great already. But seeing it on stage is an amazing feeling. Adding the swing sets from the rafters creating the illusion that the children are flying over the audience made me smile ear-to-ear.

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A song about kids wanting to be adults. What could be more fun? But then the mood changes drastically. Now it’s about the adults losing their childhood. There’s no happy medium apparently. A very real conversation we adults have with each other every day.

Which I believe added to my love for this musical. Not only did I identify with Matilda as a child, but now that I’m older I think I still do. And I’m thankful for that because I never lost a lot of my childlike qualities. I find joy in everything, I attempt to have as much fun as possible (even if there are chores to be done – they’ll get done! Don’t pass up enjoying life!), and my wife and I tend to live our lives just like this. Also, I still read like a fiend and the library is my best friend (Chicago Public Library is seriously amazing!).

It’s always interesting to me to see if a muscial really GOT to me or not. And the fact that I saw it a couple weeks ago and it’s still in my head says it did. Particularly the chorus of “Naughty”.

Just because you find that life’s not fair, it
Doesn’t mean that you just have to grin and bear it.
If you always take it on the chin and wear it,
Nothing will change.
Even if you’re little you can do a lot, you
Mustn’t let a little thing like ‘little’ stop you.
If you sit around and let them get on top, you
Might as well be saying you think that it’s OK,
And that’s not right.

My office mate, who attended the show with me, and I both came in the next day to work talking about that particular line. If you’re unhappy, change what’s making you that way. You don’t have to take it. And that resonated with the both of us.

If Matilda the Musical comes through your city, don’t pass it up because it’s a “kids show”.  It’s really so much more than that. You’ll find yourself in there, I promise.

ALL the tickets!

Yesterday was new subscriber package purchasing day. Which we all know was about to be my favorite day of the year. I was on my phone at 9:58 ready to sit on hold with Broadway in Chicago.

Yesterday I WERKED

The only thing was that there was no queue – you had to keep calling back! Eek. But LUCKILY the musical gods showed me the love and on call #4 a lovely lady by the name of Frankie picked up and I tried not to squeal like a teenager.

And then again my hopes were dashed when I discovered I was just giving my information to a person, not really for certain getting subscriber tickets. I was so confused because in the past I sat on the phone with a person and we picked out my seats together (which is part of the fun of subscribing to theatre packages IMO!). I got off the phone deflated. The excitement was gone.

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BUT on the bus ride home I received a call from Kevin at BIC. Long story short I didn’t have to wait until April to get my golden ticket. My card was charged, my seats were selected (even got all aisle seats as requested), and a wonderful, beautiful email come through last night confirming my dates.  It’s official! So I clinked glasses with my wife and relaxed.

Out of excitement I put the photo below on my Instagram (which you should follow):

It was a strange way to process tickets in my opinion, but I’m also not on their side of things. Being at an institution with a blockbuster exhibition happening, where we get 400 phone calls a day at least, I can only image Broadway in Chicago’s situation.

I will say I wish there was a magical way to sort out the people that wanted to see ALL the shows and not just Hamilton! 😛 But ah well, I’m happy and got my first choice. So kudos to the BIC team and a shout out to their social media person for handling questions, particularly mine, on Twitter!

Now the waiting begins for these shows. Aladdin is over a YEAR away. *cries* But I’m sure it will be here before we know it.

My Blog Has Abandonment Issues

Whoa.  Way to abandon a blog for two years sweetie!  That said, though I never stopped going to the theatre it has lessened due to a pesky thing called grad school sadly.  What happened then you may ask?  Well, new job for one which I’ve been in for about a year. AND occasionally gives me #jobperks such as tickets. 

I LOVE TICKETS.

So I’m wanting to get this going again, and we will have LOTS to talk about in 2016.  

First and foremost: Broadway in Chicago’s 2016 Fall Season.  Oh hello.  I’m a subscriber again (or I will be on March 1st).  Yes, yes, Hamilton is on there BUT check out the rest of this line-up….

Photo from Broadway in Chicago


Hamilton

What do all these productions have in common?  To the best of my knowledge, they’ve never been to Chicago. Not to mention I think they’re all relatively newer tours of shows. The whole reason I sadly left my perfectly picked out seats with BIC is the lack of rotation (or just plain dumb shows no one wanted to see).  But this? THIS is amazing and I could not be more excited. 

Hamilton – No-brainer. Can’t get NYC tickets? Next best thing!

Aladdin – Disney musicals are either really good or really not-so-good. This one that I’ve heard so much about though I can’t wait to see

Hedwig – Saw it with Neil Patrick Harris in NYC. AMAZING show. I can’t wait to hear who the traveling Hedwig is. The best 90 minutes in theater.

Curious Incident of the Dog – Loved the book when it first came out and I was a Borders employee. The cast recording sounds great so I’m excited.

Bodyguard – The only one I’m skeptical about but in the end, it should be fun with good music.

What else is upcoming?  Well so far we’re going to the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella (ICCA) Semifinals.  That’s right.  Just like Pitch Perfect!

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Also, Matilda the Musical which I love that cast recording and am very much looking forward to that production.

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I’m sure there will be much, much more to come in 2016.  Anything else in the smaller theater world that you’re seeing and keep staring longingly at the tickets on the fridge, wishing the day would get here sooner??
  

My quick thoughts on Sound of Music Live

Yes it has aired and re-aired by now, but I’m still mulling it over.  As are many people that are musical theater lovers that we know.  So because everything that there is to be said is said I’ll bullet point my main points: 

  • Carrie Underwood did fine.  Singing.  Acting?  Not so much.  It was obvious she wasn’t comfortable.  Poor thing was outta he league except with The Lonely Goatherd, but she is a country singer.  I hope she’s proud of herself though for stepping outside of her box and doing something new.  Before she does something like it again though, she needs Acting 101.  
  • I feel bad for Stephen Moyer – all you can see is Bill from True Blood and him going “Sookie!”
  • Audra McDonald.  I heart her.  Seemed to young to be the all knowing Mother Abbess, but at least she could sing.  
  • Laura Benanti.  Show-stealer that one!  She was a treat from the Elsa in the movie that’s for sure.  I loved the catty attitude.  
  • From the very beginning I was confused, considering I read nothing about this beforehand.  Why was Audra singing “My Favorite Things” at the beginning?  Well thanks to the super helpful Playbill live tweeting, I quickly found out that it was  because this was based on the *stage* version.  Cue a much more interested household on our end!  
  • I thoroughly enjoyed the song “No Way To Stop It” with Christian Borle and Laura Benanti – not in the movie and a “pleasant” surprise of a song despite the subject matter.
  • There was ZERO love between Underwood and Moyer.  I did a “oh now I’m suppose to believe they fell in love.  Okay…”.  
To sum up – I didn’t hate it but I was far from loving it.  Not to mention I learned a lot about the stage production, which we’re seeing later in 2014 at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.  It’s never been a favorite musical of mine, but I appreciated it highly, and this production spent a lot of money, but they missed out on some casting opportunities.  

But in the end, my favorite Tweet of the night came from Lin-Manuel Miranda (of In The Heights and Bring It On):



This is what it boils down to in the end.  People watched a musical, and if they turned it on just for Underwood, then they saw their first musical production perhaps, and I like to think that we hooked a few new lovers to the theater!

Othello: The Remix

My favorite daily browsing of BuzzFeed reminded me of my favorite show that we saw this summer, which was Othello: The Remix.  I heard about it from a coworker and the next day the show popped up super cheap in my daily Goldstar newsletter.  So why not?  

Now I am a fan of Shakespeare, while my wife is definitely not (not even David Tennant in the BBC’s version of Hamlet could keep her interested while I’m laughing like crazy).  She’s not a fan of having to decipher what the actors are actually talking about.  And she loved this show as well.

To be short and sweet about it, it’s a rap version of Othello.  And not in the way I thought it would be either.  I expected four guys on stage rapping the words of Othello.  But no!  They actually rewrote the entire story with more modern words and set it to rap and hip hop.  These four guys (and one DJ who was more involved than just changing music on a laptop) ran around in overalls playing all the characters in the play – sometimes by changing something slightly such as a hat and other times going full drag in a slip over the head dress and a wig while going falsetto!  They were amazingly talented and I’ve never laughed so hard at a Shakespeare before – and I love Shakespeare!

The show has left the Chicago Shakespeare Theater but apparently has recently hit the news by performing for inmates, which I think is fantastic.  Inside a place where people have either committed a crime against others or on the flip side, in there for what someone else did to them, the play speaks to those inmates I should hope.  

This has been continuously traveling throughout the world, and I would pay to see it again if it came back through and have made a permanent mental note that if I see the The Q Brothers have started a new show to go immediately!

What I thought I was going to say to Felicia Day

Note:  I started this after C2E2 in June of 2013 and finally a couple months later “finished” it.  I think it’s things like this where you realize, there truly sometimes are no words….

Talking SIP with Terry Moore in 2010

I am worthless sometimes when it comes to meeting people I admire.  My first comic book convention I nervously walked up to David Mack and sputtered something out as he signed my Kabuki comic.  But in my defense, I had admired him so long as an artist, I didn’t know the man was gorgeous to boot, which made my nerves skyrocket! 

In awe over Andy Kubert at C2E2 2010


But there are other times when I’m eloquent such as talking to Terry Moore about Strangers in Paradise and how we both missed Katchoo and Francine.  Or my personal favorite moment was thanking Andy Kubert for doing what he does because I became an artist because of him as I loved his style and copied it into my sketchbooks from X-Men comics.  This seemed to stun him for a second as he was signing my books and really, genuinely appreciated it.  And the guy seemed a bit dick-ish to everyone else, but I went into the conversation and put it all out on the table anyways.  

Then there are times that you meet people you not only admire, but you feel that in another life, you would probably be best friends.  Felicia Day has been that for me over the past few years.  I was first introduced to her in Buffy as Vi when that was ending.  While I was hating on the rest of the series (I thought the whole last season was dumb) I liked this seemingly quiet, shy girl who joined the cast for a bit.  

I was there before 11am cash in hand!


Later on, in 2008 while the writer’s strike was happening, one of my younger self’s crush, Neil Patrick Harris, was in a web series.  And who are these other two seemingly hilarious people that Joss Whedon has found?  Of course, *now* everyone knows who Nathan Fillion is because of Castle.  But at the time, IMDB had to come to my rescue and I learned that both him and Felicia were in the end season of Buffy.  Interesting!  In any case, I latched onto anything Felicia did while The Guild was in its second season I believe.  I loved the fact that a woman was an obsessed gamer!  Finally!  The gaming (and nerding) world in general wasn’t just about the men!  And of course, being a musical lover, the songs they did for The Guild I immediately added to my iPod!  Songs like “Do You Wanna Date My Avatar” and “I’m the One That’s Cool” were like they were talking about me!  Especially the last one.  More on that later.


In any case, when I went to C2E2, Felicia was my #1 draw and reason I pressed “buy”.  The entire convention was of course amazing.  But my interaction with Felicia was the highlight.  And for one simple reason.  She truly WAS as kind and sweet as I always thought and imagined she would be in person.

But here’s where I went off the track and said NOTHING I wanted to tell her. 

Felicia with UP house cosplayer

I was two people behind the lovely cosplayer who was amazingly dressed as the house from “Up”.  I was with my wife, still debating on what item I wanted signed and trying to calm my nerves.  She kept trying to talk to me, but I couldn’t speak.  I almost was ready for it to be “over with”.  I watched her with the people before me and thought “she doesn’t want to be doing this for 10 hours – she’s not going to appreciate anything I say”.  I have seen and heard my fair share of meeting heroes and then they don’t meet your sometimes lofty expectations.  In any case finally my wife snapped a photo for the guy that was in front of us who didn’t have anyone with him and then BOOM she was right. freaking. there.  

And my mind went blank.  

Achievement Unlocked. Now BREATHE.

She loved my Geek & Sundry stein – which I had her sign.  She gave my wife the biggest smile.  She actually put her arm around me instead of just leaning in as she did with other fans.  We talked about G&S a bit, I thanked her profusely for nothing in particular, and then just lots of smiles and thank yous.  

I didn’t say ONE thing I meant to.  


So here it is.  

THANK YOU Felicia Day for giving girls and women the strength to embrace their nerdiness.  I had comic book characters in the 90’s to latch onto because there was no one IRL.  No one ever understood my fascination with things like Final Fantasy VIII or Myst.  Or how I still loved playing Zork with just text to guide me.  I dressed all in black with odd jewelry that I most likely made myself.  No boys wanted to date me – which I was kinda okay with (considering I accepted later in life, I was actually gay, so that would be why!) though I yearned for the unattainable romance I read about.  I lost myself in books, comics, and the lives of video game characters.  I had thick glasses, developed too quickly (which I would discover later in life I wouldn’t mind later!), and tried to fit in desperately in an attempt to avoid teasing.  This included doing the popular kids papers and homework for them.  They knew I would read the books assigned to us (if I hadn’t already) and made it sound like I would get to go to their birthday parties if I did it.  I guess my invites all got lost in the mail, so you’re welcome for helping you pass AP English and History.  Jerks.  

People can still be mean.  I’ve felt this at work over the past few years as well as some acquaintances that have come into my life.  I’m in my thirties and bullying still exists??  Unbelievable.  So more than anything when the whole “fake geek girl” crap started arising and people were down on Felicia on YouTube to the point that she posted how it upset her, I wanted more than anything to run to wherever she was at the time and give her a hug.  How could anyone upset a person who’s kind and doing good for a small part of the population of the world?  People are dicks.  And people listen to Wil Wheaton and don’t be a dick.  Don’t hide behind your keyboard to do it either.  No you’re a dick and a coward.  

Me SUPER nervous and not talking to Val

In any case, I guess even in typing this I realize that I can’t even convey what I really wanted to say to her on a blog post either.  So perhaps that for the best – if anything I won’t come off creepy.  I think in the end there are not enough “thank yous” in the universe to tell her.  And to be clear there are many others like her that I admire and appreciate too – but she was the first beacon of hope for me that I wish was around when I was younger.  So if anything, the kids today have it good to have people like her to have as a role model.  Also, apparently it’s “cool” to be nerdy now?  Which is kinda annoying – but I guess not getting made fun of and instead being one of the “cool” kids for wearing a Marvel t-shirt is better!  

So truly 6th grade girl that kicked my ass frequently – I’m the better person.  And I strive everyday to try and find some way to encourage women and girls to be themselves.  I was, and still am.  I am now happy and living in a huge city with so many things to offer.  I would never go back and wish I wasn’t teased or bullied in school – it made me stronger in the end.  Also, “coming out” as a nerd is amazing – especially at work!  Incredible how many like you there really are!

So Felicia, thank you for being a role model even to this 32 year old in Chicago who is still a huge nerd.  you’ve talked directly to me through the Vaginal Fantasy group, I met you and the thought still brings a smile to my face about how gracious you were, and all-in-all you are successful and I can only hope that someone is as proud of me as I am of you and what you’ve accomplished.  I can’t wait to see what you do next! 

Also, I hope if I get the opportunity to meet you again, I do it with slightly more eloquent words.  Or we could just geek out over lord knows what game just came out!  

Hugs and thanks for being you!

It’s always amazing to meet the people that inspire you!