Theatre Review: “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” @ Al Hirschfeld Theatre, 06/25/11

How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying should be renamed How to Succeed on Broadway Without Really Trying. The answer: put Daniel Radcliffe, star of seven Harry Potter movies, in the starring role and you will have success no matter what. It’s called stunt casting and there’s little shame in it, especially when Radcliffe’s face is about three times as big as the title of the musical itself. The funniest part of this entire thing is that Radcliffe isn’t really the star of the show, John Larroquette is and yet his name isn’t even on the poster. Go figure.

This was the first time I had ever seen How to Succeed… even though it’s a staple in the community and high school theatre across America. Of course, I’m familiar with its fantastic 11 o’clock number, “Brotherhood of Man” but that was about it. While I generally enjoyed myself, I didn’t fall in love with this production or the show itself but at the same time, I’m really glad I saw it and I had a great time.

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Theatre Review: “The Addams Family” @ Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, 6/23/11

Out of all the theatres on Broadway, I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much time looking around at the theatre itself as I’ve had at the Lunt-Fontanne. The first show I saw here was Beauty and the Beast. I was underwhelmed, bored and a bit unimpressed. Then I saw Disney’s train wreck, The Little Mermaid. I pretty much hated every second of it. And now, I saw the critically-panned musical, The Addams Family. The story, written by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice, was uneven and not the least bit kooky. The uninspired music by Andrew Lippa was mundane and felt super forced, and overall, the performances were creepily bad.

I laughed once in a show that’s 2 1/2 hours long. Once. There were some light-hearted chuckles by the audience throughout (and of course the children laughed at all of the body humor), but most of the time I was rolling my eyes and shaking my head wondering if this was really, actually happening.

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Theatre Review: Priscilla Queen of the Desert @ Palace Theatre, 06/25/11

If you are looking for good time on Broadway, then grab tickets to Priscilla Queen of the Desert! It’s funny, endearing, fabulous, and chock full of some of the biggest and best pop songs ever written!

I will say this: Priscilla Queen of the Desert is about a thousand times more interesting and exciting than the Broadway staple, Mamma Mia. It’s hard not to compare the two shows because both shows use familiar pop music to drive their stories. You might think that songs like, “It’s Raining Men”, “I Say a Little Prayer”, “Holiday/Like a Virgin” and “I Will Survive” aren’t musical theatre worthy but book writers, Stephan Elliott and Allan Scott, have cleverly crafted a smart book, full of heart, that presents the material in a way that works fabulously!

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Theatre Review: “Sister Act” @ The Broadway Theatre, 6/22/11

All I can say is this: if Sister Act would have opened in the 2009-2010 Broadway season it would have won the Tony Award for Best Musical. Hands down! To be honest, it is the best new musical I’ve seen on Broadway in the last two seasons. It is hard to dislike a chorus of spectacular singing nuns in shiny sequin costumes belting their faces off. It absolutely blew me away.

The first time I saw this show was in London was in November 2009. I had some issues with book, especially among the male supporting characters. There was also some continuity issues in the plot. They were more focused on the flash and glitz and the heart of the story was lost. Every change they made from London to Broadway was the correct addition or subtraction. The story is clearer, the relationships between characters are stronger, and the show flows so much easier. In the end, the show actually becomes even flashier than it initially intended because it has so much heart to it.

I walked into a show that I thought was going to be so-so and it ended up being absolutely fabulous! As Deloris sings, “It’s fabulous, baby!”.

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Theatre Review: “Baby It’s You” @ Broadhurst Theatre, 6/24/11

Two and a half hours and 40 songs later, I walked out of the Broadhurst Theatre wondering what I just saw. I didn’t hate it, but I really didn’t care for it either. Baby It’s You is a mash-up version of Dreamgirls, Jersey Boys, and Smokey Joe’s Cafe but the downfall is that it doesn’t do anything better than any of those shows.

The story centers around the life and career of housewife gone record studio exceutive and producer, Florence Greenberg. It never centers around The Shirelles, even though the four girls sing almost every number. While, we were all connected to the fabulous Beth Leavel (playing Flo), it didn’t matter because we never really cared about any of her relationships. It doesn’t have the story or connection like Dreamgirls does, nor do you care about the characters like you do in Dreamgirls. Baby It’s You focuses on a lot of small conflicts that are usually resolved in minutes or even seconds. The first act closes and there’s nothing driving you to come back after intermission. I was even confused that the first act ended. (I turned to my neighbor, who I didn’t know, and said, “What just happened?” He had no idea.)

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Theatre Review: “Catch Me If You Can” @ Neil Simon Theatre, 03/11/10

Disclaimer: I saw the Catch Me If You Can on the first preview, March 11, 2011. No press tickets were given; I purchased my own ticket.

It’s been less than 48 hours since I’ve seen Catch Me If You Can, and I can’t even remember what the point was. To be honest, I’m not even sure if there was one. It seems a bit strange that after their huge hit like Hairspray, the creative team would get back together and work on Catch Me If You Can. Hairspray’s characters and story line gave way to musical theatre very easily. (The music and dance is even an essential part of the plot line.) But Catch Me If You Can uses the concept of “putting on a Broadway show” to allow the characters to sing and dance. The infamous main character, Frank Abagnale, Jr. (Aaron Tveit), is constantly referring to the orchestra, back-up dancers and even the audience to tell his story. And yet, it only makes for awkward, disconnected story-telling.

Here’s the problem with Catch Me if You Can: the material doesn’t call for singing or dancing. It shouldn’t be a musical.

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Theatre Review: “The Book of Mormon” @ Eugene O’Neill Theatre, 04/12/11

To me, I’ve always felt that the Broadway community has opened their arms to everyone. And I mean anyone and everyone. It’s a safe place. As an educator, this is one of the biggest things I stress to my students. There’s absolutely no bullying at any level in my classroom. It’s extremely important that everyone has a place in the theatre no matter what your sexuality is, your religion or your ethnic background. It’s what the theatre is all about.

Some people might ask, “Why did I go to The Book of Mormon”? – a show that I’ve already called out for its offensive nature. So hear’s the answer: I wanted to have an opinion on this show. I wanted to be able to respond when people asked what I thought. I felt it was important, since I am Mormon and a part of the theatre community.

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Theatre Review: “Anything Goes” @ Stephen Sondheim Theatre, 1st Preview, 03/10/11

Disclaimer: I saw the Anything Goes on their first preview, March 10, 2011. No press tickets were given; I purchased my own ticket.

Anything Goes, Roundabout Theatre Company’s newest revival, is absolutely de-lovely.

It’s delightful.

It’s delicious in every respect.

Not only is it one of the best revivals I have seen in recent years, it’s one of the best shows that I’ve seen on Broadway in a long time. While other Broadway shows are trying to push the envelope, Anything Goes ends up being good-ole fashioned musical theatre fun. It doesn’t need to be technically over-produced like Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark, or pushing the limits on subject matter like in Trey Parker and Matt Stone’s musical, The Book of Mormon because Anything Goes is a classic.

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The “Happy Broadway” Playlist

Yesterday, I received some bad news so I asked my awesome twitter followers a question. “What Broadway songs/musicals do you listen to when you need some cheering up? (And I used the hash-tag – #happybroadway.) I was flooded with responses with some absolutely incredible choices. I thought it would be a fun post if I put together a list, so that you can make a “Happy Broadway” playlist according to all of these great suggestions!

Here’s the list of songs that make you happy (followed by the person who suggested it):

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