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!

ScreenRant.com

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

Matilda the Musical

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!

Finally, we got to say "HELLO!"

If there has been one statement we’ve gotten a little tired of hearing it’s been “you guys haven’t seen Book of Mormon yet??”.  No, no we haven’t.  And for no particular reason really.  We had the money, we had the time since you had to buy the tickets about 6 months out, but we never got the motivation to just go buy them.  

Then one day Val’s sister, who I think has never seen a musical in her life, got free tickets to see it in St Louis.  Then it got to the point of “well if she’s seen it we have to go now!”.  And I’m glad we did since I had just discovered the news that it was leaving Chicago soon.  So I went to the box office and scored two balcony seats within the next month by not being too picky and Val and I would have to sit one behind the other (which actually, the people next to me never showed so the second half we got to sit together!)

Now, onto the actual show.  Elder Price is usually played by Nic Rouleau, but like most matinees, we got the understudy of Stephen Mark Lukas.  I don’t know of Rouleau and haven’t heard anything fantastic about him as the Elder, but Lukas was not fantastic.  It took him a few beats to find the pitch.  His voice didn’t make it through “I Believe”.  And he was just dull.  Now, that being said, having not seen Mormon before this could be how they all act (dull, not off pitch) but I could have cared less about the character.

So Elder Cunningham helps the show out.  That’s how it is?  The Elder Cunninghams in NYC and West End are usually the ones I hear about.  And now look at Josh Gad on TV!  In any case, this Cunningham was play by Ben Platt, who if you’re a music nerd like us, you’ll remember as the Star Wars nerd from the (amazingly funny) movie Pitch Perfect.  He played Cunningham as a bit mentally challenged it seemed.  He got a ton of laughs.  His voice, also not strong, but still better than Lukas’.  I think he did the character very well and it was nice to have someone that didn’t sound exactly like the original cast recording.  

Now, having been listening to the cast recording for about two years now, and knowing every single line, I was set up for disappointment.  But I wasn’t in the end.  It didn’t blow me away at all, but it was one of the most highly entertaining shows I’ve ever seen.  Seeing it finally in person was even funnier than listening to the recording or watching clips from the Tony Awards.  The set was really detailed for a touring show, the costumes are basic though.  One thing that we both enjoyed is that every character plays several minor characters in the show.  I can only imagine the costume changes going on backstage during those times!  

Though we weren’t impressed with Lucas, and I liked Platt while Val was meh about him, the one we both loved was the kid that played Elder McKinley, Pierce Cassedy.  He lit up the stage as the closeted gay Elder.  His singing was more decent than his cast mates.  And all around with his dancing and acting skills, he was a delight to watch.  Also, we want to now be BFF’s with him.  I thought about asking when passing him in the theater hall with his Broadway Cares bucket.  

I’m SO happy we finally saw this show. There is nothing like looking over on a Sunday at 2pm and seeing 70 year old people laughing at jokes about clits being cut off, maggots in scrotum  and AIDS.  It’s something I can’t imagine ever experiencing again.  It’s not a show you come out feeling renewed in humanity or found you learned a valuable lesson.  But in the end you laughed your ass off and it was worth it.  Don’t go for amazing singing – go to have fun.  Because I was crying several times and I know every word to the music in this show.  They did a great job bringing these interesting characters to light for sure!

Streetcar leaves me to desire more…

This is going to be short because there isn’t much to say really.  Sometimes shows that you had no expectation surprise you and other times they are just down right disappointing   

Sign outside Lyric Opera

We were able to take in Lyric Opera‘s very limited showing (only four total) of “Streetcar Named Desire” on Wednesday.  I’ve seen the movie, and it was pretty good, and Renee Fleming was playing the lead, so despite everything else going on we decided we couldn’t pass this up. 

I suppose we could have though.  In short, Renee Fleming did not “wow” me the way that I expected.  I’ve never been able to see her live, though I’ve had many an album of hers that I listened to over and over again. As soon as she came out though, I was already a bit disappointed.  Were my expectations too high?  Perhaps.  But considering the hoop-la around this show and her, I think that’s warranted.  

In short, Renee Fleming does not pull off a southern “voice” too well while being all operatic.  I was having flashbacks of Halle Berry playing Storm in the X-Men movies, and the viewer would raise an eyebrow on the occasional “oh that’s right, I’m suppose to have an accent in this!” moment.  Or Renee is too classy a broad to pull it off!  The male lead, Teddy Tahu Rhodes, while nice to look at (bald, built, and tattoos!) made me cringe at several points.  I was excited when he walked out because he didn’t seem the norm as far as opera singers, but again, left disappointed.  

The shining star in my opinion was Susanna Phillips playing Stella.  She was flawless, played the role well and I bought her as the character as opposed to the first two.  I wanted more of her instead of everyone else.  


In the end, I can now say “I saw Renee Fleming” but this show left me shrugging my shoulders and trying not to giggle at the “STELLA!!!” (sung, of course…) coming out of a bald man ripping his shirt off on stage.  Let’s leave that to Marlon Brando, I think.

No more Mormon in Chicago?

Man, talk about right timing.  So the rumors are going this week Book of Mormon is about to be done with it’s course here in Chicago.  THIS was a very well put together article in the Tribune today as to why they think so.  

I loved having Wicked in Chicago as a semi-permanent staple, but the really neat thing was hearing how many people knew someone actually in the show.  BoM is a touring show, so these people aren’t Chicago actors.  

So I breathe a sigh of relief knowing my tickets are hanging on the refrigerator and will finally see it in a week.  It was a great gift for Chicago to get the extended run.  I’m also almost relived we’re seeing it so we don’t get asked why haven’t we seen it yet??  I feel like I know the soundtrack so well already that I’m not going to LOVE it like I should but I have a bit of hope since I keep hearing how well Ben Platt is doing as the role of Elder Cunningham.  He did great on Pitch Perfect, so we shall see!  

But time for Book of Mormon to move on and something else to roll into the Bank of America theater!