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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Seeing something in English and I’m familiar with at the Lyric Opera isn’t something I’m use to. Usually I’m asking Val “what is it”, “what’s it about”, and “do I NEED to see it!?”. If it’s good, even though on paper (or internet) it sounds dull, and Val says YES you have to see this show, I will. And then something strange happened. The Lyric Opera of Chicago decided to do a production of a musical! The old, old musical Showboat – we’re talking a musical from the 20’s and one that I never hear too many people doing any more.
In learning about what it takes to put on Showboat I understand why too many places don’t take this feat on any longer. For one, you have to have one ENORMOUS stage to fit, well, a showboat on….Then you have to make a show from 1927 appeal to a whole new audience.
I think Lyric did a good job of putting this show on though. What was most interesting to me though, was the fact that the star of the show was not the opera fan’s heartthrob, Nathan Gunn (who’s shirt stayed on the entire time, sorry ladies and some gentlemen 😉 ) But instead the shows set brought gasps and applause to the audience instead. The singers had to stop singing for a bit, so the inanimate object could get its applause time in! Amazing. And yes, it was incredible.
Beginning with the false wood panel wall coming apart in three pieces during ‘Old Man River’ and revealing behind it the front of a showboat pulling (yes it was moving) into the ‘dock’. Incredible, and felt very surreal, like the theater was on that dock for a moment. Some other scenes of note that the audience (and myself) adored, were the Palmer House and the park. The Palmer House Hilton is highly recognizable to most Chicagoans. So when the curtain rose to show the gorgeous ceiling, staircases and interior of the hotel, murmurs of approval ran throughout the main floor. The perspective was dizzying and I envy the eye of whoever painted it. Then there was a scene in the park which made you feel like you were outside, downtown Chicago (a LONG time ago based on the buildings or lack thereof in the scene) and flying kites. One thing I love about this city? Flying kites is still much adored here. Beaches, parks, wherever! Love it!
The singers were great, though it was weird to see people I’ve watched in other operas, well, singing in English for one! Not to mention, Nathan Gunn not having as big a part (and shirtless). He came across well though as the swarmy Gaylord, and stole the heart well from Magnolia.
One cast member that gets a mention all his own is Morris Robinson who plays the part of Joe. Better known as, “the guy that sings ‘Old Man River’ throughout the show”. His deep and sultry voice was amazing, and perfection for that role and more importantly, the one song that everyone knows from Showboat. He was the only actor who received as much applause as the false boat did on stage.
I’m liking Lyric’s effort to bring in some new things not usually seen at operas, and if this is the beginning of that, then I welcome a new direction. And am super curious to see what they bring to the table next. We already know that subscribers get to see Renee Fleming herself in ‘Streetcar Named Desire‘. Now, how does lil ole me get a ticket to that? *wink*
Whoops! In the whirlwind of summer beginning and us going to the Kentucky Derby, I forgot about Next to Normal. One of the primary reasons we purchased season tickets with Broadway in Chicago.
After watching it nominated for 11 Tony’s in 2009 and winning three of them, we knew this is one that we would jump on if it came to Chicago. I mean, it also won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for Drama making it the eight musical to ever be given that award, the previous winner (and my personal favorite) was in 1996 when Rent was given the prize.
We were tickled when Broadway in Chicago announced that Alice Ripley was going to be continuing her role as Diana Goodman. She won a Tony for playing this part – and she was coming with the touring show! Super exciting
Until……*cue the foreshadowing music* …..because nothing can ever be perfect.
We enter the Bank of America theater, nab our Playbills, sit down in our seats (complete with an annoying paper stickered to them reminding us to renew our subscription yeah no and read all about that HERE) opened them up and CRAP. The dreaded piece of white paper falls out into our laps. “Alice Ripley will not be in this performance”. Well that’s just lovely. And she didn’t perform what seems like 5 performances that week, with no explanation. Nothing. Usually you get something – and she performed some charity event or whatever on Belmont a couple of days later, but couldn’t show up to the shows. Hope she’s okay, but don’t keep toting that a super star of Broadway is going to be in something and then she doesn’t even show up!
Moving on…..this show was incredible minus Alice Ripley. It has a three tiered set that moves and changes colors based on what’s going on. The actors were all fantastic. Ms Ripley’s understudy was even quite good – though I felt bad for her when there was clapping at the very beginning that ceased as soon as they saw it wasn’t the star they were looking for.
It’s hard to write a review about this show though because there are plot twists in it that I don’t want to give away. I’ll just say this though. There are few shows that I don’t know the storyline of, and maybe because this one was a newer show and all I knew was the soundtrack – I don’t know. But during the birthday cake scene I had an “OMG I had no idea that’s what was going on!!!” moment. Something huge that I never knew and never realized from listening to the soundtrack.
This show is intense and highly depressing, but very reflective. It’s not afraid to show a modern family. People have issues. Families help each other out. Love is still possible. Next to Normal deserves all the praise and awards it’s received. See it if you can and hopefully you’ll get to see Alice Ripley.
I know a ton of my friends and followers saw this show – what did you think? Did you enjoy it even without Alice Ripley as Diana Goodman?
No words can describe what Company was. This is a show that hasn’t fully settled in my mind the enormity of what I experienced. It was in a word: Perfect.
It was just announced that it will be in theaters starting June 15th, 2011, and if your theater houses it, do yourself a favor and see it. I will even though I saw it live, and I probably will go more than once. If it comes out on DVD (oh please, oh please, oh please) I will pre-order it and watch it yet again. This show made me smile. It made me think. I laughed and in the end I sobbed.
First off, I wish I had bought the Doogie Howser
shirt in the NBC store beforehand and worn it but thought it wouldn’t be appropriate. Until Val pointed out to me the girl that had a sweatshirt that stated on the front “Legend– wait for it…” and on the back “…-dary!”. Neil Patrick Harris
fans a many.
Neil Patrick Harris got mad cheers as soon as he stepped out onto the stage. To be expected. And as soon as his mouth opened I got chills. I’ve watched him since I was young and followed him throughout his career including musical which includes Rent
, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-a-long Blog
, and that glorious episode of Glee
directed by the amazing Joss Whedon
. NPH was exactly what I had hoped, but didn’t want to get those hopes up too high. I hung on to every word and he was a perfect Robert – though weird to see him play a part so parallel to the Barney Stinson
character on “How I Met Your Mother”
was the one that most critics and fans alike were flocking to this show for. Sure, he had a musical Christmas Special (A Colbert Christmas: The Greatest Gift of All
) but can he hack it on stage? Oh, and how he did. The comedic timing with him Neil Patrick Harris and Martha Plimpton
(who played his wife) was excellent. And the “karate” moves along with some other acrobatics were not only great, but just too funny.
Another plus for us was Christina Hendricks. Being the Mad Men fans (and lover of her *ahem* assets) this last minute addition just sealed the deal that we made the right decision in our slight second choice of buying these tickets and booking a flight to New York City. She played one of the three women that Robert is dating, a stewardess that’s kinda ditsy. She was great, and who knew she could sing? Plus watching hers and NPH’s clothes coming off was quite the bonus….oh, to be that silk sheet……on a nerdy note: Joss Whedon-verse’s collided with those two. NPH being in several of Joss’s works and Hendricks in two episodes on the short-lived but still loved, Firefly.
Some other notables would be Katie Finneran who got the daunting task of singing “Getting Married Today” (the Sondheim-like song of extremely fast talking lyrics). Anika Noni Rose (otherwise known as the Dreamgirl who’s name you didn’t know from the movie) was amazing with “Another Hundred People”. And then Craig Bierko was a surprise to us of how good he was – a glance at the Playbill helped us realize he actually won a Tony for Music Man – so that answered that. And then of course Patti Lupone who’s “Ladies Who Lunch” was flawless – down to slinging her martini on the front row of the audience.
In the end it was the most perfect show I’ve seen in my life. I’m not quite sure how any show, if any show, will ever live up to it. Though it was cruddy to be in NYC for about 48 hours or so, it was worth it every cent and every minute. Come on June 15th!
Oh! And also, as a bonus to our Company weekend – we upped the ante on the Neil Patrick Harris love fest and went and visited McGee’s Pub
– apparently this is the bar that Maclaren’s
on “How I Met Your Mother” is based off of. We found nice people watching the Yankees versus Red Sox game and made ourselves right at home!
*note most of these pictures are not my own – I’m sure you can tell which ones! *wink* They’re in fact from HERE
and by the NY Philharmonic themselves.
Has there been one show or event that’s changed your life? I heard of someone proposing right after the show to their significant other – I think that’s definitely one to remember!
I’m going to make these next two quick, because one, there’s not much to say, and the other we didn’t come back after intermission. So yeah, not so good.
First off Hair – this was one of the list I wouldn’t have purchased if we didn’t have season tickets. I saw the movie back in college and was not impressed at all. I know some of the music. I know my ex-hippie mom adores it. That was about it.
But hey – it could be fun right?
And it was.
The audience was the fun part for me actually. Seeing these ladies around my parents age having a blast, wearing old rock band shirts, and basically they would be dancing in the aisles if the ushers allowed them too.
Otherwise, the sound was off and I couldn’t understand a lot of the lyrics. The story is a bit lame. The whole thing, audience included, reminded me of Rock of Ages. So I can say I saw it, and I don’t need to see it again.
I loathe this theater (Bank of America Theater) with a passion – but too bad since there’s three shows being put in here this season – so this was the first one. Our seats were cheaper and much better than the last time we were here for Rock of Ages. Note to people going to this theater – even in the first row of the dress circle you cannot see the entire stage. So our new seats are first row balcony. And though STEEP you can finally see everything!
This show is throwing around the name F. Murray Abraham like crazy. He looks familiar….not *too* familiar….I had to have IMDB help me out on that one. Oh, he was Noah in Muppets From Space. Okay. That’s about all I know of him.
In short this was weird. I know the story having studied Shakespeare for many years in college and high school. Merchant is not one of my favorite plays to begin with. And so with this one, it’s taking place in a Wall Street setting and instead of three coffins to choose from it’s three MacBooks. Ummm….no.
Not to mention we could not hear ANYTHING coming out of the actors mouths. And Mr. Abraham was the worst. I think they weren’t miked and for that large of a theater that was unacceptable. Every time they turned their backs to the audience there was practically silence. And you could tell every time a joke happened, the main floor would crack up while upstairs it was silent.
Needless to say we left at intermission. I bitched to Broadway in Chicago on Twitter. They contacted me. I emailed them. They found my wife’s phone number (I would assume through our season ticket information) and called her. I left a message regarding this and got no answer in return. I didn’t want anything out of it to be clear, I just hope they got my email and phone message so that perhaps they could make sure this won’t happen again.
It was a sad two shows though. A waste of time and money.
Next week we hit up New York to catch these fine folks in Company at the NY Philharmonic:
Neil Patrick Harris
etc, etc, etc……
So hopefully that will make up for all the short falling as of late from Chicago’s offerings.
Has there been a show, concert, or anything you paid a lot of money to see and left early? Movie even?
Figures right after my post about what Broadway in Chicago has announced so far and my thoughts on it, they go and add another one. I see how it is. This is what I get for hating on your precious ‘Merchant of Venice‘ on Twitter right? *wink*
Anywho, announced today is that Chicago will be making a one week stop in Chicago. It’s been here numerous times (for obvious reasons) and I have yet to see it live on stage. I love the music and adored the movie, and cannot wait to see what ‘Cell Block Tango’ looks like live!
The only casting announcement so far has been the part of Billy Flynn, who will be played by John O’Hurley. I would say mostly known for Mr. Peterman on Seinfeld. I loved him in my favorite episode of The X-Files, ‘The Post-Modern Prometheus‘. To me, he’s too old, but I’m sure he’ll pull it off!
Great addition BIC! Hope we can get tickets to this extremely short run!