For those who missed it, here's all 3 Billies from Billy Elliot at Regis and Kelly's Broadway Week.
I love dance. And I am always in awe of people who dance well and make it seem really easy. So it's not so surprising that I loved this show. In fact, I love it more than the movie. The choreography and staging of the dance sequence is so dynamic I found myself riveted. I don't think you get a sense of that in the movie. Just the prologue where the audience is introduced to the Jets and the Sharks and their ethnic war had them dancing all over the urban jungle set grabs your attention immediately. It's full of energy and very kinetic. That, and the score is the beauty of this production.
I did feel that the show's love story plot, taken from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, is a bit "forced" since Tony and Maria fall in love immediately after meeting at the dance (or maybe that's just me being jaded). But I'm willing to overlook that because of the phenomenal dancing in the show. Special mention made to Cody Green (who plays Riff). I first noticed his talent in the reality show Step It Up and Dance where he ended up winning the competition. Even then his dancing is so masculine and yet very graceful. It's even more evident in this production. I found my eyes being drawn to watch him during the dance sequences. Also equally quite impressive is Curtis Holbrook (who plays hot head Action) and George Akram (who plays Bernardo). For the girls it's scene stealer Karen Olivo (who plays Anita) that was remarkable. She doesn't only have a very impressive voice but lovely lines when she dances. My favorite number is America and Cool. Both are very exciting. I must also say that the chorus seemed to be enjoying performing together and dancing Jerome Robbin's intricate choreography.
Now to Tony and Maria. Josefina Scaglioni (who plays Maria) has a beautiful angelic voice and Matt Cavenaugh (who plays Tony) has a voice that could have one melt. They were good actors but I think the characters they play are the least developed in the story. Their characters seem one dimensional to me compared to Riff or Anita. I do agree with Lani that the age difference between the two is evident even where we were sitting high up in the mezzanine.
The set is stunning. It's an urban jungle. During the rumble part, wire fences came down to separate the stage from the audience and enclosed the cast. At the same time, a silhouette of the bridge overhead also descends from the rafters. It does take the audience to that setting or at least that was my experience.
Go see it. It's only once in a while an iconic piece such as this is produced. Hopefully you'll enjoy it as much as I did. For more info, check out the West Side Story site.
Mr. Irons was charmingly comic and sardonic, and yet I got a sense right away that there was a world of pain underneath. While he was subtle, Ms. Allen seemed to be overplaying her role. I couldn't see why Thomas could possibly be attracted to Katharine.
The cast includes Marsha Mason, Michael T. Weiss---TV's The Pretender (who didn't stop for photos or autographs and merely said to our small group of Stagedoorers, "you're all still here? and walked away) and Andre De Shields who stole the show for me. I also enjoyed the beautiful artwork being projected onto the stage during scene changes.
I wasn't overly impressed by the play. The writing didn't seem to be up to par with the acting. But I'm still glad I got to see the two leads. None of them came out through the stage door by the way. The door kept opening and I kept seeing glimpses of Ms. Allen on the stairs talking to someone. But it wasn't until almost a half an hour later that someone told us that if no one's come out by now, no one will be.
Aaron Lazar stopped for one autograph and walked away. Boo! Thankfully, I saw all the cast members of God of Carnage at their stage door, signing autographs and taking photos. I only was able to take a photo of Jeff Daniels walking away and the top of James Gandolfini's head from where I was standing. I should have just left the Schoenfeld stagedoor and trooped to the next door theatre.
Who wouldn't be impressed with the cast of this show? Angela Lansbury (Madame Arcati), Rupert Everett (Charles), Christine Ebersole (Elvira) and Jayne Atkinson (Ruth). In addition to that, the material was written by playwright Noel Coward, one of the wittiest writers of the English language.
The show is an utter delight! Blithe Spirit involves the story of Charles, a writer, who wanted to do research about a book he is writing about contacting people from the other world. Enter Madame Arcati who facilitates this learning process and oversees a seance. Well, things don't go so well which results to Elvira (Charles' first wife) being called back from the other world. This of course not only spooks Charles, but also his current wife, Ruth. A perfect recipe for an awkward but hilarious living situation for everyone.
I've only seen Ms. Lansbury on Murder She Wrote and so this is my first time seeing her live. It's such a privilege witnessing a living legend on stage. She is such a comic genius! The mannerisms, tone of voice and mere physicality she assumes for this character is so absurdly amusing we were giggling whenever she's onstage (particular mention to the seance scenes). She's a riot. Equally amusing is Christine Ebersole as the ghost of the first wife, Elvira. An added bonus is hearing Ms. Ebersole's crystal clear voice as she sings Noel Coward's songs during the scene changes. The songs incidentally will be recorded and available soon according to playbill.com. Rupert Everett and Jayne Atkinson were also great in the play. Everyone was great even Susan Louise O'Connor who plays the maid. So try to catch it while you can. It's such a delight!
poster outside the Shubert Theatre
We then walked around the area and stumbled upon other actors coming out of the stagedoor for their respective shows. You could actually call it a.......Stagedoor crawl!
J. Robert Spencer, Next to Normal
Megan Hilty, 9 to 5
And then I saw this display at the Theatre Circle Store on 44th St. that I just had to take a picture of:
In our world of CGI filmmaking, it is quite refreshing to see a movie like Earth. What better subject than our own beautiful blue planet? This full length film features footage from the award-winning television series Planet Earth.
Directed by Alastair Fothergill and Mark Linfield, the film is a visual treat, and I would have loved to have seen it in IMAX. Nice to hear James Earl "Mufasa" Jones narrating. There were plenty of cutesy moments with baby animals, which my fellow kiddie audience members loved. There were plenty of "Awwws", giggling and laughing-out-loud moments. But a warning to parents: there are hunting scenes which could be alarming to younger children. We are spared the full bloody spectacle but we see enough disturbing images. Thankfully, I didn't hear or see any children cry although the theater did get very quiet.
In the promos, they mention that it follows the migration of three families (polar bears, elephants and humpback whales) but it does digress a lot. No complaints though, because the scenes are just so breath-taking and like the TV documentary, I often wondered how they managed to capture many moments in the film. According to IMDB, this was the first film to capture aerials of Mount Everest with the help of Nepalese Army spy planes.
I can't wait to see Oceans on Earth Day 2010.
Yente the Matchmaker. Vera Charles in Mame. Maude. Dorothy Zbornak. Bea Arthur was a legend. Sadly, she has left us. She passed away today at age 86 in her Los Angeles home. She had been battling cancer. Rest in peace, Dorothy. Give our regards to Sophia.
This year's Tribeca Film Festival opened on Earth Day, 22 April and will close on 3 May. To help lower Manhattan recover after 9-11, the festival was founded in 2002 by Robert De Niro and Jane Rosenthal. It has now become an annual NYC tradition, and getting bigger each year. Since I moved out of the city, I've only been to the festival twice (these pictures were from 2004) I'm not sure if I'll be able to go this year, but if you get a chance, GO! If you're a movie buff, especially of indie films, you can't miss a film fest. The directors are present for some screenings and the Question and Answer portion at the end are always interesting and enlightening.
Watch Stephen Colbert's interview with Ira Glass.
|The Colbert Report||Mon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c|
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.....it's coming July 15th! See the official trailer here.
(photo from WarnerBros.com)
Check out the new poster for the Fifth Season of Weeds! The season starts on Monday June 8. I can't wait!
- The Cove - part whodunit, part eco-educational movie about a team of activists who set out to save fish and dolphins off the coast of Japan. Opens Jul. 31.
- Battle for Terra - stars like , Luke Wilson, and lend their voices to this ; plays in 3D in some areas. Opens May 1.
- Earth - the cinematographers behind the Planet Earth series bring you a beautifully shot, feature-length film about three animal families - elephants, polar bears, and humpback whales. Opens Apr. 22.
- Food Inc. – unveils the sometimes dirty politics of the food industry; features experts like Michael Pollan (Omnivore’s Dilemma) and Eric Schloseer ( ). Now in limited release.
- Fuel - slick docu on new energy sources, featuring interviews with eco-thinkers like Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and eco-celebs like Julia Roberts. Now in limited release.
- The Age of Stupid - faux documentary-style drama about a less-than-cheery dude who in the year 2055 looks back over the past few decades of . Premieres in May.
Angela Lansbury may play a medium in Noël Coward's Blithe Spirit, but she is definitely larger than life. She is Madame Arcati, who ends up summoning the spirit of author Charles Condomine's dear departed first wife Elvira during a seance at the home he shares with current wife, Ruth. I was thrilled to see a living legend perform live on stage. I never knew she was so good at physical comedy. The Angela dance is now embedded in my mind.
Rupert Everett (dashing and funny as ever) is writer Charles; Jayne Atkinson plays his domineering wife number two driven batty by beautiful ghost Christine Ebersole. (We get to hear her sing between scenes. According to Playbill, a CD of the songs will be released.) Susan Louise O' Connor plays the pivotal role of the bungling maid Edith. The stellar cast did a wonderful job with the play's distinctly British dry wit. The funny lines just kept coming. The set was beautiful. The production is enchanting. You will leave the theatre in high spirits.
21 year old Argentinian Josefina Scaglione as Maria. Her vocal range is stratospheric! Wonderful Broadway debut.
Powerhouse Karen Olivo who's perfect as the spitfire Anita. I hope she gets a Tony nomination. She owned the stage everytime she was on. When Anita went to Doc's, she looked like she could have taken all the Jets down single-handedly.
George Akram as Bernardo
Matt Cavenaugh as Tony. Interesting casting choice because he's nowhere near what I thought Tony would look or sound like.
"America" was a highlight for me.
Robbins. Sondheim. Bernstein. Laurents. West Side Story. How can you go wrong? Seen the movie a few times. Had the album with Kiri Te Kanawa and even The Songs of WSS 1996 pop album. I was genuinely excited as the lights went down and I heard the familiar strains.
But something did go wrong, at least in this audience member's mind. Maybe my inner cynic/Jon Stewart/Joel McHale were to blame: I couldn't help thinking that if these teenaged boys were as tough as they pretend to be, they wouldn't be having balletic dance-offs *pause for gasps of indignation from dance fans*.
I thought Tony looked old enough to know better than to run around with hooligans. Sondheim has said that Tony and Maria were meant to be "one-dimensional characters for a melodrama". Our star-crossed lovers were meant to live in their own bubble. So no personal journeys or character arcs. Only Anita seemed a fully realized character, but that's probably due to Karen Olivo's star-making performance.
Favorite moments? The usual crowd-pleasers: Tonight Quintet, America, Tonight, Maria, A Boy Like That/I have a Love. But the rest of the time, I found myself a bit bored. The first act seemed to drag on. I never could wrap my head around the love story (obviously not a fan of Romeo and Juliet) and was always more drawn to the racism, gang mentality and social issues. But in this revival, I couldn't feel the anger, the urgency, the tension nor the culture clash. Even Officer Krupke lost its snarkiness. Don't get me wrong, the show has a lot going for it. The singing was impeccable, the dancing flawless. Spanish translations in the score and book: makes sense. Somewhere was a disappointment. Even worse, the ending was different and lost its power. Maybe I was a victim of Mermaid-itis yet again (hyping it all up in my head like I did The Little Mermaid and winding up disappointed).
I'm sure many people will disagree (all my viewing companions liked the show---wait for Pinky's review). Please feel free to comment. Seriously. I'd love to hear what you guys think.
Celebrate 5 Years of NYMF!
On 20 April at 7 PM, catch the one night only benefit concert BEST OF FEST. This concert at the New World Stages will feature songs from shows that got their start at the New York Musical Theatre Festival, with performances by festival alums, including:
The Casts of
[title of show]
Mary Bond Davis
Jon Patrick Walker
and MANY MORE performers to be announced!
VIP Admission $136.50
(includes premier seating & admission to VIP artist after-party)
Prime Orchestra Seating $76.50
Rear Orchestra Seating $51.50
*prices include $1.50 facility fee
For those who missed it, here's Karen Olivo and the cast of West Side Story performing America on Dancing with the Stars. Show them how it's done girls!
Karen Olivo (Anita) and the cast of the current revival of West Side Story will perform "America" on Dancing With The Stars tonight. The program airs on ABC at 9 pm ET/ 8pm CT.
On a side note, I love the photo (from LaTimes.com) above! Just look at those lines!
Broadway Bodies is a new way to workout which features dancing and learning the choreography of your favorite show tunes. It offers classes from beginners to experienced dancers. In the upcoming weeks, they are offering a class to learn the Cellblock Tango routine from the musical Chicago. Teaching the class would be Deidre Goodwin (most recently as Sheila in A Chorus Line) who played June "he ran into my knife 10 times" in the film version of Chicago. Ms. Goodwin has also played Velmy Kelly on Broadway.
The Cellblock Tango series will be for 3 nights (April 30, May 7 and 14) only at 7:15 pm, Chelsea Studios, 151 West 26th Street – 6th Floor. Further information about this series please click here. Check out the class and let the inner Merry Murderess come out!
Broadway Bodies created by Stephen Brotebeck and Jeff Vilensky also teaches choreography to you favorite music video such as Beyonce's Single Ladies and Brush Up. The class schedule can be found here.
(photo from BroadwayBodies.com)
Her book discusses female problems of course and conventional medicine, holistic approaches, diet, nutrition. But the real eye-openers are the individual stories that illustrate the mind-body connection. The tales are so startling and enlightening, they will make you look into your life and gain an understanding of yourself (and even other women in your family).
So if you have XX chromosomes, keep this book in your collection.
Every Little Step is a behind the scenes documentary of A Chorus Line. It follows the drama and heartbreak of the casting process of the 2006 Broadway revival. The movie opens in LA and NYC this April 17th with other cities to follow. Sony Pictures is also offering free screenings in selected cities (please check the Every Little Step Facebook page for information). Just watching the trailer above makes you realize how intense the casting process was for these actors and how much heart and soul they've invested. I'm excited for the movie.
A Hope Lodge guest clued me into the wonderful world of Caroline Myss, a medical intuitive who's authored several best-selling books on health and spirituality. First book I read was Anatomy of the Spirit. Anyone who's ever done yoga or meditation knows that humans don't just have energy---we ARE energy. Every cell in our bodies live and breathe. In the book, she skillfully blends Christian, Hindu and Jewish beliefs to explain how our psychology becomes our biology. It discusses thought patterns, old habits that make it hard for people to begin their healing.
This is not your ordinary self-help book. It's confusing and illuminating but ultimately for me, life-changing. I'm still a curmudgeon, but a happy one.
May we all have opportunities for growth and rebirth in our lives. Happy Easter!