Tag Archives: story line

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.

The frighteners

I just watched the series finale of American Horror Story: Coven.

AHS Coven

I won’t include any spoilers here — for those of you who are even farther behind than I — but I will say that Coven was my least favorite of the three AHS mini-series to date.

Here’s why:

  1. It wasn’t scary enough.  Murder House and Asylum were hide-your-eyes-put-the-kids-to-bed television events.  MH was especially chilling with its basement of horrors, leather-bound mystery man and shadows darting in front of the camera without explanation.  The only thing scary about Coven were the teaser promos; the series itself was more spectacle than horror.
  2. There weren’t enough men. It’s wonderful to see all these powerful female roles, especially for actresses of a certain age. But does that conversely mean that there’s room for so few men in the story line?  MH and Asylum had strong characters of both sexes; Coven suffered from its narrow definition of witch.
  3. The finale (no spoilers) seemed a bit…familiar. I’m pretty sure that same actress was in a very similar situation at the end of Asylum.  Would be great to mix things up (including the players) in Seasons 4 and 5.

TV critics have been quick to call Coven the best season of American Horror Story based on the higher ratings alone.  But we know how long it can take audiences to find a series.  So if you are new to AHS this season, take a swing by Netflix and watch Seasons 1 and 2.

They’re so good, it’s scary.

Let’s go exploring

Can you believe it has been eight years since Bill Watterson stopped drawing Calvin & Hobbes?

The comic strip itself was only published for 10 years — from November 18, 1985, to December 31, 1995 — and yet somehow it feels that it was always in newspapers.

It’s that iconic.

A new documentary is now in theaters and OnDemand that examines the Calvin and Hobbes legacy:

dear mr watterson

Director Joel Allen Schroeder examines the comic strip for the phenomena that it was — artwork that was miles ahead of its neighbors on the page, and story lines that tackled issues like environmentalism, education and philosophy.

To build his case, Schroeder interviews everyone but Watterson — fans, his syndication partners, comic experts, and fellow cartoonists.  It’s very much a love fest, as they all agree on the comic strip and its creator’s instrumental role in cartooning history.

They also discuss Watterson’s controversial decision NOT to merchandise Calvin & Hobbes.

I highly recommend the 89 minute film.  It brings back great memories, gives you access to lots of Calvin & Hobbes comics, and will leave you thinking:

“I need to make a bookstore run!”

Jump the snark

I finally saw Bring It On the Musical tonight.

I’ve been waiting for over three years to see it…perhaps that’s why I was a little disappointed.
bring it on the musical

No, it was more than that.

The musical is merely inspired by the cult-classic film.  It borrows characters and story lines from the sequel, eliminates favorites and creates still more.

The school uniforms help if you get confused.

The musical also has a completely different tone.  It is very light on comedy.  Gone is the snark that made the original film so much fun to watch.  And somebody in the writers room loves earnest ballads.  I found myself groaning when yet another heartfelt musical number interrupted the dialogue.

But once they got into the heart of the competition, Bring It On really entertains.  If you like watching cheerleading competitions on ESPN, these are just as intense and high-flying…

Plus everyone is singing their lungs out!