Fanboys on Broadway? It's
not as wrong as you might think. Warner Brothers
has been trying to cook up a musical version of Batman for the past
years. Webmaster Andrew Preston couldn't wait that long, plus he really
doesn't like Batman, and as he stumbled around New York City looking
peep shows, he ended up in real live theaters. What he found may surprise
you, and make you demand that your local community theater start doing
shows that don't suck.
Urinetown - The Musical
"You've got a sweet head Bobby Strong…"
Urinetown is a clever, energetic, Broadway
production wrapped around mankind's most basic of bodily functions.
Set in a "classic " town near you, Urinetown tells the cliched story
of the common people being oppressed by a major corporation. In this
case, the drought has caused water to become so precious that every
man, woman, and child must pay a fee to "take care of their business."
Public urination is punishable by exile to the infamous Urinetown. Add
a classic "boy meets girl" story along with satirical singing and dancing
numbers and you have a stage show that is sure to be enjoyed by any
semi-seasoned theatergoer with a moderate sense of humor. The show is
open about its parody, including a large discussion on exposition in
general, and a few jabs at the show's own title. The music is wonderful.
It comes off as being very fresh while still maintaining the classic
American musical feel.
Highlights for me would be the 'Let's
snuff the girl' piece that is a definite rip of West Side Story's "Cool"
and "Don't be the Bunny," a funny tune about being the hunter, rather
than the hunted.
The most enjoyable thing overall was the
intensity and energy level of the cast. As is needed in satire, the
cast gave 150% to ensure that the silly songs and wacky dance moves
were felt in the back row. The commitment level of each performer made
this show so much fun to watch.
If you are in New York for a few nights
and you have seen a handful of Broadway shows before, I consider Urinetown
- The Musical a must see. It may be a bit much for the theatre newbie,
and anyone who doesn't appreciate the fun in rhyming the words "urination"
and "defecation" should probably avoid it as well.
It opens again at the St. James Theater in London in 2014. Check out their web site here.
Eat the Runt
It's your turn to be the casting director.
Eat the Runt features a 'normal' comedy
script with one slightly avant-garde twist: at the beginning of each
performance the audience chooses which actors will play each role. With
a number keypad attached to each seat, the audience witnesses a one-sentence
audition from each actor. The audience then votes on whom they wish
to play that particular role. Chosen actors leave the stage to prepare,
and the remaining performers compete for the next part.
Being a first-timer, I had no understanding
of the roles I was voting upon. So after the story started to unfold,
I notice I could have made more "interesting" casting choices.
You follow the main character through
a job interview at a major New York art museum. The museum employees
have their fair share of quirks and office politics. A major twist at
the end of Act 1 leaves you knowing you will certainly enjoy Act 2.
The best part of Eat the Runt is thinking
of the different casting possibilities for each scene. Although the
description of the script makes claims that it is genderless and raceless,
there are major discussions of Affirmative Action and several love interests.
The show that I witnessed featured a lesbian
love triangle with a bi-sexual center (you figure it out), and a scene
where an obviously Caucasian actor claiming that an obviously African
American actress was not black. Keep the dialogue the same and swap
in some males or change the races entirely and the scenes would have
a totally different dynamic. Those possibilities are what make Eat the
Runt worth seeing…possibly several times.
Unfortunately, I don't think that your
average theatergoer will find it as interesting as I did. It seems to
be a show by thespians for thespians. If you are in New York for several
days and you need a non-musical to change it up a bit, Eat the Runt
would be a good choice.
The show website is here.
Making band camp cool.
Ok. Take the most kick-ass college marching
band, get rid of the lame outfits, put them on a Broadway stage with
some awesome lighting and decent choreography and you get BLAST.
BLAST is a musical performance group made
up of three performing sections--the brass, percussion and visual ensembles.
There is no dialogue or storyline, just carefully executed musical pieces.
The visual ensemble consists of dancing and spinning and tossing unusual
implements such as flags, rifles, and oh yes, bizarre green blades of
By far the highlight of the show was the
"drum-off" percussion showcase. Two different percussionists pull out
all the stops by performing flurries of fast stick work while throwing
in some fancy tricks. One of the guys somehow managed to slide the drumstick
up and down his arm while sill maintaining a lightning fast drum roll.
The "drum" off moves on to a line of 15 snare players all playing with
glow-in-the-dark sticks while striking each other's snares. The section
ends when several tom-tom kits lower from the ceiling and the whole
percussion bangs them into oblivion.
Another noteworthy piece features the
didgeridoo. For those of you who don't know, the didgeridoo is a hollow-stick
like instrument that is commonly associated with Australia. If you have
ever seen a Foster's beer commercial, you have heard the didgeridoo.
The entire cast enters with didgeridoos and runs into the audience for
a little in your face didgeridoo action. I swear the guy on the balcony
above my seat was trying to drip spit onto me with his didgeridoo. If
you haven't picked up on it yet, the word "didgeridoo" is fun to both
type and say.
So here's the deal with BLAST: If you
are into, or actually in, a marching band or college band, you will
think BLAST is the coolest thing ever. If you frequent Broadway often,
you will enjoy the odd change of pace. If you are a casual theatregoer,
you will appreciate BLAST for what it is, but wish you spent your Broadway
dollars on something a little more "traditional." We bought tickets
at a 50% discount, which made the show worth the money. If I had paid
full price, I may have felt a bit ripped off.
Kiss Me Kate
We needed one classic.
Kiss Me, Kate is based loosely on Shakespeare's
The Taming of the Shrew. It tells the story of the relationship between
an egotistical actor and his leading lady, set against a tumultuous
tryout of a musical-within-the-musical that is based on The Taming of
It's Kiss Me Kate on Broadway, what can
I say. It was colorful, cheesy, and entertaining. I can say with all
honesty that I had a great time.
Is the show groundbreaking? Of course
not. Is the Kiss Me Kate T-Shirt going to identify a new crop of high-school
drama geeks? Probably not. Is it an excellent execution of a classic
musical comedy? Hella-ass yes.
This is the perfect show to see if you
are new to musical theatre and you want to see something that is definitely
"old school Broadway" in style. If you have to take your mother to a
Broadway show, take her to see Kiss Me Kate.
The Kiss Me Kate website is here.
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