Tag Archives: Broadway matinee

All hail Hedwig

I approached yesterday’s matinee performance of Hedwig and the Angry Inch with my share of doubts.

Not about Neil Patrick Harris — he can do anything.

But drag performers are the latest rage on Broadway. Last year’s Tony-winning Kinky Boots gave them both their entrance and their legitimacy. The decision to put up the revival of Hedwig now seems a bit like ‘joiner’ behavior.

Not gonna judge it sight unseen, though…especially with Neil at the helm.

HedwigThe first few numbers are fast and fun and full of Neil’s familiar charm and humor, so it’s easy to think you’re just watching him do  fantastic drag.

Then Neil simply disappears as Hedwig’s story takes center stage, one filled with loss and love, pain and power, disfigurement and metamorphosis.

Neil is supported on stage by a great rock band — one guy is from Lexington, Kentucky! — and Lena Hall, who also won a Tony for her drag performance.

But the show is all about Neil.  All about Hedwig.

He is mesmerizing.

Then what

sliding doorsWhen I read the premise of Idina Menzel’s new musical If/Then (currently in previews at the Richard Rodgers Theatre), it sounded exactly like the Gwyneth Paltrow vehicle Sliding Doors (1998).

In Doors, Paltrow loses her job at a swanky London PR firm and rushes to catch the tube back to her apartment. The movie shows — in two parallel realities — how her future love life and career are changed depending on if she does (or doesn’t) catch the subway.

I saw the matinee of If/Then today, and it didn’t change my mind. While the choice that sends Menzel’s character on two potential paths takes place in Central Park, the two stories share more plot similarities than even I expected.

if thenBut I think If/Then could learn a thing or two from its movie doppelganger.

For one, the musical doesn’t focus on one character’s life in two parallel realities. Instead, it attempts to explore how Menzel’s friends, played by LaChaze and Anthony Rapp, also make their own unique choices.  (Now, I did love seeing Rapp back on Broadway, and his character is a bit of a Rent callback in many ways.)

But going back and forth between three story lines in two realities — and giving each character closure in both of those realities — takes time. Too much time.

Doors got ‘er dun in 99 minutes.  If/Then took over an hour more.

Today’s Playbill didn’t list the musical numbers; I’m sure that’s because the show is in previews, and some cuts may be made before the March 30th opening.  I highly recommend it.  While many numbers were amazingly heartfelt — a couple with language blissfully blue — others felt simplistic, like a rhyming dictionary set to a bouncy beat with awkward American Idiot-like choreography.

All that being said, the cast is wonderful, their voices worthy of Menzel. By opening night, I hope the show is worthy of her.

True romance

I didn’t read The Bridges of Madison County when it was published in 1992 — even though Oprah said I should — and the film of the same name three years later was too schmaltzy for my taste.

(Sorry Meryl.)

So no one is more surprised than I at how much I love — that’s love, love, LOVE — the Broadway musical adaptation that I saw today at the matinee.

bridges broadway

This is one of the most romantic shows I have ever seen performed on any stage.

Kelli O’Hara and Steven Pasquale are simply amazing. O’Hara is a Broadway veteran; we expect her depth of character and beautiful voice.  But Pasquale, who I know from his many TV roles, matches her step for step, creating a relationship that is wonderful to watch.

And his tenor?  Fills the theatre.

The music and lyrics by Jason Robert Brown are beautiful; the book by Marsha Norman a wonderful mixture of light and shade.

Did I mention I love it?  I simply cannot wait to see it again.