C2E2 2013

C2E2 Showroom Floor

Besides musicals  plays and the usual shows you see on blogs such as this, this couple has a wide variety of “shows” they enjoy!  For instance, concerts.  And this summer is going to be full of them it seems judging by the ever growing tickets on our refrigerator door.  Shows can be any variety of thing in my opinion….let’s say museum exhibits?  A movie at the theater?  Or even….comic book conventions?  YES!  

That, and it’s my blog and I’ll do what I like.  So there.  
Loki says “sit the fuck down!”

In any case, probably never mentioned on here before is my love for comic books.  It started around 7th grade while the 90s X-Men the Animated series was on.  I fell in love with the character Rogue, followed by her on again/off again beau Gambit.  This was followed by finding a comic book store and discovering that my favorite characters were in book form?!  Amazing.  So began my comic book collecting – though ill-timed as the X-Men books at that period were going through the Age of Apocalypse arch – and for someone that just knew the animated series, I almost dropped the books altogether due to sheer confusion!

Insert “bigger on the inside joke” here.
Which brings us to today.  I still have the want for collecting as I did, but city living spaces and lack of expendable income at times has caused it to go to the wayside.  Not to mention, just the slim pickings there is in quality of books.  So currently my purchases are The Walking Dead and Saga monthly.  Others just get thrown in so I don’t have to put only $4 on my debit card!  
The Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo is Chicago’s answer for not having to go to the suburbs for a comic book convention.  We used to only have Wizard World in Rosemont, and that train ride is hell to say the least.  C2E2 has grown significantly in the past four years and resides in the city of Chicago, not 15 miles away in a ‘burb!  I hadn’t been since the first year it opened and have been dying to see what it’s turned into.  That and it was announced that one of my all time favorite people, Felicia Day, was going to be in attendance!  Sold!  

Mama Wonder Woman and wee Huntress
I could go on and on about all the things I saw, the people I talked to, and the creativity that was witnessed over those Friday and Saturday afternoons.  It would be hard to choose.  Instead I will say, that as a nerd/geek/outcast/whatever, a comic book convention is more than about comic books.  If you like TV and movies, there’s stuff for you.  Anime?  That too!  My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic?  All over the fucking place!!  There is an abundance of genres to choose from. 

My wife and I spent a lot of our time shopping for art for our new place in the Artists Alley.  We purchase two pieces, two I can’t recall who they’re done by but will post when they’re framed and put up in the condo, and one by Karen Hallion, whom I’ve been desperately attempting to not buy everything she makes.  But seriously, when you combine Disney with Doctor Who, it’s hard. We ended up going with this piece because I’ve always identified with Belle.  It’s going to go in our bathroom with a couple of other classy, yet nerdy Doctor Who pieces (well that’s the plan anyways – we still have to get in there and see how it all lays out!).

Cast of Firefly cosplay
Wil Wheaton wrote this great blog post about how comforting it is to be at a convention.  And it is so true.  It’s a rare opportunity for everyone to be who they are (or in some cases who they wish they were!).  No one judges.  Seriously.  There are women who are wearing not much more than a leotard and tights, who would get the shit kicked out of them in school or on the street because they might be overweight, etc.  Instead, they get asked left and right for their picture to be taken!  And every convention I go to I’m amazed at the sheer amount of people in wheelchairs, or families with autistic children, and so on.  Basically, *everyone* is there to be themselves and not feel like the world is staring them down.  

TARDIS and Dalek cosplay
Several times throughout the weekend I choked up when I gazed around the floor at my fellow nerds.  They are all so talented, so imaginative, and most importantly so, SO loving.  It amazing and I would encourage anyone who’s never been to a show such as this to try it – you might discover a movie you’ve never heard of, an author who’s name you’ve heard of but never tried, or an artist as you’re walking by their table and have the “I *have* to have that print!” thought.  That art may not stay with us forever (though I hope it does!) but the memories will.  And I already cannot wait until next year! 

C2E2 2013

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!  

Been waiting since 2011…

….and in two weeks the day will finally be here.  We’re finally going to see Book of Mormon here in Chicago.  

Any theater ticket that has “Explicit Language” is okay by me
Marquee of Chicago’s Bank of America Theater

Almost every single person we know, whether they enjoy musicals or not, has seen this show, and the two who based their wedding on musicals because they love them so much?  Yeah, haven’t gotten around to it just yet.  I finally found a random matinee a month out that had two not-so-high balcony seats with one seat on the aisle and another single one behind it.  We don’t need to talk during the show, so that worked out just fine – and much cheaper than the inflated floor seats (NOT saying it’s not worth it though).  

Entrance to Book of Mormon Chicago

In any case, I have a fear that it won’t live up to my expectations.  And it might not.  It might be like Les Miserables and the two tries we’ve given it now.  But at least we’re fortunate enough to live in the next major city for Broadway theater and Book of Mormon decided to stay here for awhile instead of just a two week engagement.  

And it’s at my least favorite theater of course.  Groan.  But we shall persevere and say “Hello!” to Book of Mormon Chicago soon!

"A cock, in a frock, on a rock." – Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

So it has been FAR too long since this blog has been in action.  A year almost to the DAY.  No excuses!  We’ve seen some small productions but not too much of note lately, but I felt bad I hadn’t even written about the smaller ones.  But no more!  We’re back on the wagon!

 Sometimes you have shows that completely surprise you at how much you enjoy them.  In the past, shows that have done this for me have been Fela! and American Idiot.  Last night was another one of those shows.  

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert was a movie (The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert) I had only seen once, but my wife adored   Without her, I probably wouldn’t even know this movie.  I kept track of the musical when it came and went in 2011 on Broadway, although I noted and clapped for their Tony win in costume design, because WOW.  I considered seeing it when we were in NYC, but it just didn’t thrill me enough to go.  

The view from the front row

So I had been tossing around the idea with my wife for the past couple of months about going, and I honestly don’t think unless I had gotten a TravelZoo email about it, would I have made the trek downtown to a box office to buy tickets.  So I’m thankful something got us into gear.  And we scored on the tickets too.  Usually with these deals, you get tickets around $27 (add on the fees about $50) and *usually* they’re in the balcony section or at best rear orchestra.  Well, I’m not sure if someone at TravelZoo screwed up or what, but I landed front row tickets for the discounted price!  

Front row was a great place to be for sight, not so much for sound.  For one, the “people” in front of you is the orchestra which can drown out the vocals sitting that close, and then the speakers projecting the performers mike’s above your head and not point towards you.  But in this show, much like Hair, you know the songs, and the plot line is campy and not imperative to pay attention to.  We were however right in front of the confetti cannon.  You heard me:  CONFETTI CANNON.  

All-in-all Priscilla is a mesmerizing visual show.  The costume details were just phenomenal.  During the funeral scene at the beginning of the show, I have no idea what was going on with recently departed Trumpet, and instead was marveling at the different religions being shown through outfits, hats and umbrellas.  The Divas who came down from the rafters several times during the show were the strongest voices, in my (unprofessional) opinion.  I didn’t care much for the vocals of Tick, Bernadette or Felecia, but then again, it’s campy and about drag queens, so I’m ultimately not caring about this.  The drag queens I watch in Chicago’s Boystown never sing period.  And who can forget the classic scene of Felicia on the high heel of the bus ‘belting’ “Sempre libera” from La traviata?  Perfection.

The ladies werking the lobby of the theater

The crowd was phenomenal!  It was the oddest split of gay men and the elderly – the latter being just there on their season ticket night we assumed, and wondering what is going on on stage.  When we arrived in the lobby, there was a group of drag queens posing for pictures with everyone.  Right before the show started, they came in, took off their wigs and sat down to raucous applause.  I assumed they were part of the Priscilla experience  but no, they were actually there to watch the show!  

In the end, this show made me laugh for over two hours – which was much needed as I had been sick and barely out of the house for the past two weeks.  As an artist the costumes just took my breath away, the LED lights “painting” the bus pink were a great touch, and the music along with the high energy of the performers made this show a delight.  I’m happy we ended up seeing this in the end, and would recommend it to anyone.  This touring show definitely shows some “hot stuff” on stage.

We saw the green fairy!

Best. Show. EVER.

Seriously.  If you’re in Vegas and you love the whole idea of Cirque du Soleil acts, but also like good comedy and dirty jokes – this is THE place for it!  The whole experience is an experience! In reading reviews it sounds like everyone sums the show up as Cirque du Soleil meets Rocky Horror.  It combines fun into one not so very large tent.
The thing about reviewing this show is I don’t want to give away all the fun.  Considering there wasn’t a great description of it anyone could give me except “trust me, you HAVE to see it”, I now get that.  You don’t want to spoil it.  And it’s amazing-ness cannot be summed up – it has to be experienced.
It’s a process to get into the show to start.  You can begin lining up 45 minutes prior to the show starting.  There are no assigned seats unless you purchase a VIP seat.  This gets you in the first 3 rows and a complimentary drink.  In my opinion, unless you want to be that close, or the free drink, or dragged on stage, you don’t need the VIP seats.  There are not many seats, and they’re in a circle around one tiny stage!  There’s not a bad view in my opinion.  We ended up 6 rows back.  Not too shabby I’d say!
What I love about Absinthe is the encouragement to be loud, rowdy and obnoxious.  Your host is so why can’t you be?  They encourage being drunk/drinking.  They love people that play back with them – and if you don’t want to play, god help you, you’re screwed because they’ll latch onto you after that!  The Gazillionaire is your host along with his assistant Penny.  The chemistry between these two odd characters is fantastic.  And so funny, you’re crying.  A lot.  It’s just the funniest thing I’ve ever seen. 

And with that hilarity, there’s a show of acrobats happening!  Starting with a guy balancing on chair after chair in the middle of the tent.  To the point he reaches the ceiling!  Some strong men that created an almost ballet-like performance.  There was lots of balancing.  Lots of sexy women and half naked men.  Some talented folks are in this troupe.  And unlike the Cirque people, they’re actors as well!  They play along, mess and be messed with the Gazillionaire and genuinely seem to be having a great time.
Let’s face it.  What other show will tell you if you’re in the front row do not stand up while the roller skaters are on stage or you WILL get kicked in the teeth?  Or what other show will put on a tightrope act literally above their audience?  I doubt you’ll find one.  
The inside of the theater is gorgeous and decorated for the bordello that absinthe should be served in.  The people that work there are incredibly kind and helpful.  Down to their own Twitter feed where the person on the other side of the computer remembered me tweeting about seeing them soon and before we left to head to Nevada, sent me a tweet to ask if we were excited!  Excellent use of social media.  Inside the theater, you don’t have to worry about being yelled at for taking photos.  Just don’t use a flash and they let you snap and video to your heart’s desire!  Quite different!

We saw Cirque du Soleil’s ‘Zumanity’ the night before and I was worried that Absinthe might be as lame as that was (it’s seriously not even worth my typing to talk about it – just go see O or Love and do yourselves a favor and skip Zumanity).  The thing is Absinthe is perfect for Vegas.  It doesn’t try to hard, it just is the production that it is.  And now they’re pitching a tent (giggle) in NYC this summer?  Sold and heading that direction when it opens! 

All-in-all if you’re not a prude (seriously, there’s some flashing dick and simulated puppet sex) and can’t stand to hear the word “fuck” and “cock” repeatedly this is the show for you!  If you’re in Vegas, it’s the new must see.  It’s hard to explain, but when you finally see it, it all makes sense in a very drug-induced way!  

And a few notes:  yes there are absinthe spiked cocktails.  Though I wished there was time for proper absinthe drinks!  Also, there is no bathroom inside the tent.  You have to go outside.  Believe me when I say, you won’t remember needing to pee.  You’ll be amazed and laughing to hard to even consider leaving the tent for fear you might miss something incredible!