Sunday, December 30, 2012


As today was its closing day, I thought it would be a good time to finally post my review of BRING IT ON: THE MUSICAL. I'm gonna start with this: it was much better than one would expect from a musical version of Bring It On.

The true standout of the show was the cast, led by the amazing Taylor Louderman. Most of the cast, having come from the national tour, was making their Broadway debut in the show. And boy, this cast will produce some stars. The true standout: Taylor Louderman, the lead actress, who played Campbell. She is a true triple threat who really made the show. She was front and center for almost the entire show, so if she was bad, the show would be. But she was amazing, belting her face off, and holding her own with the cheer choreography. Another standout, mostly due to his vocals, was Jason Gotay. His song, "Enjoy the Trip," is my favorite in the show. They both will go far.

The show was well written in my opinion, considering what it is based on. It's not going to be the next Next to Normal, but the story was a lot less cheesy than I expected. And the music, as one would expect from Tom Kitt and Lin-Manuel Miranda was amazing. A lot of fun, with cute lyrics and some great belting.

Technically, I like the concept of a minimalist set, using projection that moved around. Was it groundbreaking, no. But did it fit the show? Yes. Also, the lighting. Literally EVERYWHERE you looked there was a million lights. It was almost distracting because of how many lights there were.

Lastly, the dancing. In a show that featured an ensemble of real cheerleaders, I expected a little more. Going into the experience, I expected the dancing to be the thing that blew me away, and I think, because the music and acting were a lot better than expected, it just didn't. That isn't to say it was bad. It just wasn't awe-inspiring.

I hope this show lives on on tour, and I highly recommend listening to the cast recording!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

REVIEW: Shakespeare Theatre Company's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM

Last night I went to see Shakespeare's A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM at the Shakespeare Theatre Company here in DC. Having never seen a production of this show before, I was intrigued. (NOTE: Just this morning, an extension to Jan. 6th was announced).

I think the production values of this production (like most STC productions) was extremely high. I loved the set and the lighting design and the way a simple set could become complex and serve as a jungle gym for the fairies and actors.

Another part of this production I loved was the inclusion of music and choreography. I've never seen a straight play with a dance captain before. It really added to the unwritten beats of the play and turned this into an atypical production of such a classic piece of theatre.

Overall, I thought the acting was mixed. I thought Puck and Bottom were standouts, turning every beat into a real, fun, comedic moment. On the other hand, the actors playing the lovers: Helena, Hermia, Lysander, and Demetrius struggled in my opinion in not only acting realistically, but also creating characters that I, as an audience member, could care about.

Overall it was a good night of theatre and if you want to see some good Shakespeare this is definitely a good option, but I wouldn't say a "must-see" by any means.

The Grammy's! Broadway Style

The Recording Academy announced its nominees for the 55th Annual Grammy Awards last night. While most of the nominations are not too related to the theatre world, one category is: Best Musical Theater Album.

What is interesting now, starting this past year, is that the Grammy not only goes to the producers and writers but also to the primary vocalists. Here are the nominees and (of course) my opinions!

FOLLIES (Jan Maxwell, Danny Burnstein, Bernadette Peters, Ron Raines, & Elaine Paige) - I think this one has a good chance of winning. In my opinion, leaving out opinions on the performers themselves, this is probably the best cast recording I have ever heard in terms of preserving a show and mirroring the true theatrical experience.

THE GERSHWIN'S PORGY AND BESS (Audra McDonald, Norm Lewis, & David Alan Grier) - I really like this recording and it has some great performances. That said, I think it deserved a nomination, but won't win the award.

NEWSIES (Jeremy Jordan & Kara Lindsay) - Similar to P&B, it is a great recording that deserved to be nominated, but doesn't stand up to some of the other nominated recordings.

NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT (Matthew Broderick & Kelli O'Hara) - I thought this recording was pretty boring with so-so vocals. This is like LEAP OF FAITH getting nominated for the Best Score Tony Award.

ONCE (Steve Kazee & Cristin Milioti) - "Falling Slowly" has already won awards, and even though it lost the Grammy, it has a good chance this time. This is a gorgeous recording of gorgeous music. I also think it has broad enough appeal to be noticed by Grammy voters who won't appreciate some of the other recordings due to their very musical theatre feel.

Also, "Let Me Be Your Star" from SMASH was nominated for Best Song for Visual Media. Do I think it will win? Probably not. Should it? Probably.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

A Bad Week for Broadway

As you may remember, I wrote a post late this summer about how this season was shaping up to be a pretty boring one. It seems I was right. Just this week alone, three shows have announced closing dates: CHAPLIN (Jan 6th), SCANDALOUS (Dec. 9th), and THE ANARCHIST (Dec. 16th).

This comes right after THE PERFORMERS closed less than a week after it opened and BRING IT ON announced it was closing early after an announced extension.

What is going on? Are people not going to shows? Are the shows just that bad that no one wants to see them?

I think this is a much larger problem than quality of shows. I think people have more or less stopped going to see shows that aren't an adaptation of something they know or starring a huge Hollywood star.  I don't know how to fix this. I doubt anyone does. Which is why Broadway is in this current situation.

Here's to hoping that the spring is more successful (and if MATILDA and CINDERELLA are an indication, it should be)!

Any ideas? Thoughts? Comment below.

REVIEW: CHAPLIN Original Broadway Cast Recording

CHAPLIN has had a very mixed life on Broadway. First it extended, then it announced a national tour, and just this week it announced it is closing on January 6th. In the middle of all this, the cast recorded a cast recording that is, like the show's journey, a bit of a roller coaster.

I actually liked this recording a lot more than I expected to, but it still was nothing special. I could see this doing really well regionally, but totally understand why it isn't taking off on Broadway.

The vocals were good. Not great. Not horrrible.

The songs were good. Not great. Not horrrible.

I think Rob McClure is a standout, but vocally is not all that reviews have cracked him up to be. Christiane Noll is phenomenal on the recording, as is Jenn Colella, especially on her big number, "All Falls Down."

I think the album deserves a listen, but after listening, I definitely understand why this show has not been a sweeping success.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012


So today the (long awaited?) cast recording of Alan Menken's newest Broadway show LEAP OF FAITH, starring Raul Esparza and Jessica Phillips, was released. Having seen the show (review here), and feeling very mediocre, I think the recording proves there was a show in there.

My biggest problem with the production was that it was rushed and the story wasn't fleshed out. The music was fun and showed off the actors' voices, even if it is not going to change the shape of modern musical theatre.

If you listen to the recording, which is about 5/8 belting, 2/8 dialogue, and 1/8 other, you might wonder why it closed so quickly.

Raul Esparza, as always, shines, and Leslie Odom Jr. (Smash), I think is better on the recording than he was live. Phillips, unfortunately, is boring and lifeless on the recording in my opinion, and doesn't shine in the same way she did live on stage.

Highlights for me are "Step Into the Light," "Are You On the Bus?" and "Jonas' Soliloquy."

I highly recommend this, if only for a single full listen on Spotify then buying some of the tracks individually.