Category Archives: Singing

All in the family

Turns out you can’t judge a musical by its poster.

Fun-Home-1

The only thing I knew about the Broadway show Fun Home before I saw it last night was a) the critics loved it and b) the Tony voters did, too.

It scored 12 nominations earlier this week.

I didn’t know the soundtrack or the book upon which it was based. I walked in the theatre about as clueless as a person could get.

So imagine my surprise when the show wasn’t the singing, dancing Partridge Family parody that I had cooked up in my head.

If you too are in the dark (and wish to remain so), stop reading now.

Have they left?  Okay.  So the rest of you know why my mind is a bit blown right now.

The musical’s narrator is a lesbian cartoonist. (Yeah, this show’s no Cinderella.) With the help of her very young self and college-aged self — two incredible young performers — she tells her life story.  With captions.

(‘Cause she’s a cartoonist.)

Fun-Home-2How her father was a part-time teacher and part-time funeral director — FUN HOME was the family nickname for the funeral home — and a closeted gay man who slept with lots of boys and committed suicide while she was away at college.

Yeah.

But that’s not to say there weren’t moments of humor and laughter.  Her first girl-on-girl experience in college inspired “Changing My Major to Joan,” one of my favorite songs in the show. And the kids did do a little Partridge Family at one point, so the graphic designer gets to keep his job.

The cast is all-around amazing. I do wish I had seen the show off-Broadway before they were plopped down into this in-the-round venue. It has led to a lot of ‘singing to the audience’ staging that seems amateurish for a story of such complexity.

It is quite a ride.

Feeling patriotic

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I saw the 7 o’clock performance of 54 Below Sings 1776 tonight.

I love this show.  Hearing it performed in this format made me love it even more.

I love that the performers were part of the audience.  I love the MC’s wit and fun facts.  I love that I was able to personally say thank to the cast members  after the show.

It is a very intimate space.

Just another reason I love New York…and America!

Building bridges

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I attended the final performance of The Bridges of Madison County this afternoon.

I bought my ticket as soon as it was announced.  Such a special show deserved an encore viewing.

It was better than the first time I saw it. Perhaps because the theatre was packed. Or because every word spoken, every note sung was the the last time for the actors and audience alike.

The performances were heartbreaking. There were three standing ovations during the show itself, and the curtain call was thunderous.  Star Kelly O’Hara spoke to the crowd, promising that the show would ‘live on.’

I worried that the final performance might be a bit depressing, but it was one of the most inspiring things I have ever experienced.

Here’s hoping it comes to your town one day soon.

Here comes the smolder

I went to see “First Date,” the new Broadway musical starring Zachary Levi of Chuck and Tangled fame…because it stars Zachary Levi of Chuck and Tangled fame.

Just keepin’ it real.

first date broadway

The show’s premise had potential, too.  Two people set up by friends meet on a blind date, their pasts swirling in the air between them.

I mean literally between them…in the form of five other cast members, who play multiple roles throughout the show — patrons in the restaurant, a waiter, mother, grandmother, sister, best friend, fiancé, father — and help them deal with the issues you face on any first date.

What to order. What to talk about.  What not to talk about.  And how to tell the other person that you just want to be friends.

Oh…that.

With the exception of the opening number — which was a tad bit thin — the show was clever, upbeat and a lot of fun.  I laughed and laughed.  Zachary’s comedic timing was as spot on as ever, and First Date showcases his voice and surprising dance moves.

His leading lady Krysta Rodriguez, who I learned from Playbill was on the now defunk Smash, was equally strong, and the supporting cast all had a chance to shine.

I would love to tweak a few of the jokes that fell flat, but even without my help…

It’s a keeper.

Deep in my heart

I fly to Germany tonight.

It’s for business — as is most of my travel — but every time I think about my upcoming stay in Heidelberg, it takes me back to junior year at the University of Kentucky.

I ushered every performance of The Student Prince, an operetta in four-acts that did a week of performances at the university arts center. The musical is set in Heidelberg, and after seeing that many shows in succession, it is what I associate most with the city.

When I walk into a pub this week, I fully expect to hear choruses of “Drink, Drink!” (and if I don’t, might be forced to start a round or two myself).

That operetta must be playing year round in Heidelberg — wonder if I could see it again in the motherland?  It has been a year or two since my junior year.

Time to make some new memories in Deutschland.

Spoiler

How quickly glee can turn into gloom.

Cameron left The Glee Project last night.  Voluntarily.

Even after Ryan Murphy, the show’s creator, met with him one-on-one and asked him to stay.  Told him he could go all the way and win the competition.  That they really wanted to write a role for him on Glee.

Cameron? He just wanted to go home.

I am so bummed.

But if reality shows have taught me anything, it’s that I shouldn’t believe what I am seeing.

While I do think Cameron’s reasons for leaving the show are sincere — especially his clash with directors regarding acting choices he refused to make — I have to wonder if he was later convinced to use his dilemma to add drama to the competition.

A change of heart and surprise reappearance at the eleventh hour would make great reality show fodder.  And Cameron on Glee?

Heck, I cast him weeks ago.

Lip service

At first, I attributed the phenomenon to DVR-itis.

I was out Thursday night, and Friday was playing catchup on the NBC comedy lineup.  Even fast-forwarding through the commercials, it seemed like promos for The Voice were on every break.  So I started paying closer attention…

They were on every break.

And pretty much the same one, too…where Adam Levine says “I have to work with you,” and Christina Aguilera throws her arms up in the air and dances around in her big Star Trek captain’s chair.

By the time I finished 30 Rock, it wasn’t a promo anymore — it was torture.  I was ready to talk…about anything.

[A 30 Rock writer even tweeted an apology for The Voice promo overload, but quickly deleted it.  Job security, much?]

Now I read that Saturday Night Live* is being delayed tonight for a full two minutes to give the audience “an early look” at the new singing competition.  Granted, SNL is a rerun this week, but…

COME ON!

There is a fine line between promotion and saturation, and NBC — you crossed it last Tuesday!  I know you guys are excited to have anything new to crow about, but leave the audience wanting more, ya know?

At the rate you’re going, the audience is just gonna leave.

What’s left of ’em.

NBC delayed Tonight Show with Jay Leno Thursday by an astounding 12 minutes to promote The Voice.  While in theory this practice is beyond egregious, I feel in this extremely rare case, NBC did viewers a favor. 

Wild about Harry

When it comes to Broadway theatre, I’m drawn to the new, the noteworthy and often the ‘not-long-for-this world.’  Revivals of 50 year-old musicals aren’t on my radar.

Two words got me in the theatre last night for a preview performance of How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying:

Daniel Radcliffe

I saw ‘Harry Potter’ make his Broadway debut two years ago in the title role of Equus. My seat was literally on the stage, which made Daniel’s 20+ minute nude scene at the end of the second act a more detailed memory than I would like.

Daniel’s entire performance was brave and brilliant, and I was furious when he wasn’t nominated for a Tony.  But he didn’t sing or dance in the play — and hasn’t in any film role to date — so I was a bit worried for him before the show began last night.

There was no need.

Daniel probably could have charmed his way through the entire show like so many film and TV stars have in Broadway shows past.  But, as in Equus, he did the work.

Harry can really sing! And director Rob Ashford has turned him into quite the dancer in numbers with jaw-dropping choreography.  Even if you don’t give two cents about Daniel Radcliffe or John Larroquette — who is a lot of fun in his Broadway debut, albeit a bit of a fast talker — the show’s clever, clever dance numbers are worth twice the cost of the ticket.

The show is beautiful to look at, too — all art deco in the bright shades of a fruit salad.  And while the outdated subject matter is pure 1961, it has some modern references to Broadway, film and television that are unexpected fun.

The show got two standing ovations during the performance and an ear-splitting one at the final curtain, all well-deserved.

Now, let’s just work on those Tonys…

Stop the music

There’s an awards show on television tonight that I’m not gonna watch (and not just because I’m on an airplane headed east).  I’m not even recording it.

The Grammy Awards.  Yep — Not. Gonna. Do. It.

I’m sure there will be much spectacle.  Lady GaGa and Adam Lambert are performing, so that’s kinda a given.  But when you’ve only heard of about half of the musical groups — and have no clue what songs they currently sing or what awards they have been nominated to receive — well, you feel like one of those folks who hang out by the buffet table at a party.

LOSER.

I could blame it on circumstances.  I used to be better informed when I had a car and actually listened to the radio.  Then I moved to the Northeast and adopted the walking lifestyle.

So, listen to music on your iPod, Carla.”

It’s a legitimate idea.  But I hate headphones and ear buds — just can’t stand having anything jammed in or around my ears — so music as part of my commute has pretty much disappeared.  And TV is my background noise of choice when I’m working on my laptop.

So this time, The Egg is depending on you — give me the skinny on what goes down at the Grammy’s pre-, during and post-show — complete with your more informed translation.

I may not like headphones, but I’d still like to hear an ear full.

Cover your mouth

When I saw the official photo released of the new “American Idol” judges, I felt a little sick to my stomach.

Perhaps I miss Simon?  Dread the start of the new season?  Or could it be a natural reaction to all the creases and crevices in Steven Tyler’s face — you know, that feeling you get after stepping off a bumpy roller coaster ride?

Turns out — it’s probably just the singing.

Researchers at Singapore’s National University Hospital found that singing spreads cold and flu germs more effectively than coughing or sneezing.  A trained voice in particular produces a stronger, more penetrating plume of infection into the air.

Well, do-re-mi.

The researchers were conducting the study to determine how far to recommend spacing beds in hospitals that treat airborne illnesses.

Perhaps the results will bring a quick end to this season of “American Idol,” too.

One can only hope.