Here's a vid of heartthrob-to-be Lin-Manuel Miranda, creator/composer/star of Broadway-bound In The Heights. I think it's gonna be a hit, and you can read my review of the Off-Broadway production here. Check out the special guest appearances in the video!
Also, if you haven't watched this, yet, watch it right now. Jenn Harris has to be an alien, because no human could possibly be that funny. Honk if you think Jeff Whitty is hot.
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Thursday, September 27, 2007
Caught Love Sucks at NYMF last night - opening night! In the past, you may have heard Moxie griping about how everything sucks at NYMF, not just love, but I'll try to restrain myself today, because this was one of the better shows I've seen in the festival, past years or present.
Love Sucks is a punk rock musical retelling of Love's Labors Lost. Despite said description, it is an enjoyable evening of theater! The plot is one of those Shakespeare retellings that translates wonkily into the 1970's East Village - two dueling punk bands, one all-male and the other all-female, compete for label attention, even as their members secretly fall in love across forbidden band lines. There's the prerequisite couple who are so quarrelsome that they have to be tricked into falling for each other, which means some really goofy and far-fetched scenes centered around the old "Hey, did you hear that Patti likes Big Joe? Well she does, she's just too afraid to say so!"
The marvel of Love Sucks is that they've got three cast members who manage to make it all come off as an actual gritty, rocking show with some real teeth and edge. Rebecca Hart and Nicholas Webber play the lead singers who hate each other until they realize they loourve each other, and they both are totally believable not only as rockers, but as characters who have such an axe to grind, "nobody would ever date them more than three times" (except each other, 'natch). Nicholas Webber makes angsty sad-sack Big Joe cute and relatable. Rebecca Hart's incredibly dry humor and surgically-precise timing manages to make a joke involving "l'enfant terrible of punk rock" really funny. Definitely a feat to be respected. Both Nicholas and Rebecca totally rock, and make the show fun and involving.
And Heather Robb, my own good friend and personal hero, exudes charm and rock and, uh, SEX appeal! Hey Heather - where have you been storing all that crazy, floor-humping, bang-a-different-guy-each-night-and-LOVE-it crazy charisma? Heather also is a fantastic actress, which is more than evident in her performance as the keyboard player who parties with a different guy each night, until she meets rocker dude from the other band, who melts her with a glance. In an extended "hey, love is awesome!" scene set in Thompkins Square Park, her and her corresponding dude rocker discover that they've both written songs about each other, and serenade each other in gorgeous harmony. And she's so good, not a single audience member puked - I swear!
The three performers also have some of the most uniquely awesome voices I've heard in a musical in ages, which gives some much-needed street cred to a musical that would otherwise have actual punk rockers rolling in their graves. I mean the two forms haven't exactly been BFF in the past, and I doubt the ladies of Bikini Kill put much stock in Rodgers & Hart.
The inevitable question that hovers around NYMF shows is "will it transfer?" I think this one actually could have a shot. Right now, the kick-ass performances are keeping the show afloat. The creators need to do some serious work on re-tooling the book so it makes more sense and is a little less frivolous under the guise of coming from Shakespeare. They also need to work on the songs, because most of them sound identical. But given some attention in the right areas from the right people, Love Sucks could be a nice little punky off-broadway show.
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
“The dexterity [Franzen] displays in simultaneously riding our coattails and stabbing us in the back certainly proves him quite the limber ‘populist.’ Though his apparent conflation of Chloë Sevigny and Avril Lavigne drew a chuckle, it serves less as a critique of the musical than as evidence that, very much like all the adult characters in Spring Awakening, Mr. Franzen is hopelessly out of touch, mired in his own self-interest, and just doesn’t get it. His confusion about pop culture aside, I’m delighted it’s now a matter of public record that not only is Franzen a world-class curmudgeon, but he’s a baldly opportunistic one at that.”That's Duncan Shiek's letter to the editors of New York Magazine, in response to author Jonathan Frazen's lambasting of Spring Awakening. New York couldn't resist going to Frazen for a response quote, and here's the best he could do:
“It is Mr. Sheik’s and Mr. Sater’s production that is riding on the coattails of Frank Wedekind’s Spring Awakening. Whether the musical also stabs the play in the back is up to theatergoers to decide.”That's all you got, Frazen? Sorry, Creme La Douche, you lose. Shiek 1; Frazen zip.
Monday, September 24, 2007
"I was a huge theater geek growing up, and that was not the easiest thing in the world, especially growing up in Chicago where sports are really the norm. I was always off to the theater at night, from seven years old on. Friends there in the Midwest who could talk to you about the idiosyncrasies of Pippin were few and far between." - Johnny Galecki plays a science nerd on new sitcom Big Bang Theory, and was a real-life theater nerd when he was a kid. Don't worry, Johnny, we've all been there!
Is it me, or does this show actually look kinda good? Hard to imagine a classic-style sitcom that could be entertaining these days (ahem, "Back to You"), but Johnny Galecki is so good, he even made Hope & Faith watchable.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
Monday, September 17, 2007
More news on the Sex and the City front: the film will debut against not one but two sure-fire box office hits: the new Indiana Jones movie, and Judd Apatow's Forgetting Sarah Marshall. I'm picturing Sarah Jessica making that same "what?!?" reaction face as when Carrie heard about Big's engagement.
Also, (spoiler alert), I read the breakdown for SATC today, and it looks like somebody's living in the Lower East Side (it's gotta be Carrie, she would never live in today's upper east side), and a major plot line includes Carrie's personal assistant. Did she strike it rich(er) from red-hot book sales en Paris? Or are we now enjoying wedded bliss and sharing Big's wealth? Maybe Carrie found her true calling designing top-of-the-line couture footwear.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
This is good. In addition to the usual rush policy, Roundabout is offering some new cheap ticket options. 100 tickets will be only $10 for the first preview (they should offer more that 100 tickets, but still good). All Roundabout Underground productions are $20. The new "HIPTIX" program, though terribly named, will offer it's 18 to 35 year-old members $20 tickets, which looks like it applies to all performances. Finally! MTC should be doing this, too. As a not-for-profit, it's crazy that they don't do more to make their shows accessible to everybody.
P.S. If you sign up for the HIPTIX program, send a loud and clear message that Roundabout should support more new work. Consider un-checking that little box that says you're interested in seeing classic plays.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Friday, September 07, 2007
The goofy dance moves, the Mickey Mouse facial expressions, the instrument-playing pantomime and, worst of all, the completely mediocre filler tracks he labored through between hits. Yes, he has 3 unbelievable jams (Cry Me a River, My Love and Dick in a Box...to be exact), but beneath this nu-sexy exterior is the same mass-marketed boy band kid from Orlando. And live, seeing it close up in high def, it’s clearer than ever. While we admit to being as caught up in the hype as anyone else, it all came into place while watching this special. Dude's still just an act. And a corny one, at that.
Hey, Gothamist, I'm in your camp! I love those jams, and Seniorita too, but the uber-hyped HBO concert was ridiculous, oversexed to the point of unsexyness, and just kinda boring. Everybody makes such a fuss about J-Tims being all legit as a musician now. "Omigod! He can play guitar, and piano, and everything so great! He's the best musician ever!" Playing a key-tar while two real musicians play over you doesn't make you Beethoven, or even Ben Folds. All the "real musician" stuff is just as much a part of the marketing package as his cute suits. Not that he doesn't wear them well. I'd hit that. But all this fuss about him being the second coming feels a little forced. And what was that song about drug addiction? Yikes.
And also - what were those dancers wearing? They looked straight out of John Doyle's newly imagined, dark, sexed-up version of Bye Bye Birdie.
On the other hand, everything he does on SNL is gold. Pure gold. Maybe that's the key: Justin should incorporate his hilarious, gooftastic side into his music performances. Take a risk, Justin!
at 6:02 PM
Tuesday, September 04, 2007
Fuck Jonathan Frazen. Even if he hated the Spring Awakening musical, why does he have to publish his senseless vitriol in the introduction to his own new adaptation? As the Post hints, the desire to publish a new adaptation is pretty obviously rooted in the musical's massive success. I think the whole thing is really embarassing for Frazen, and some of his comments seem to indicate that he just doesn't get the theatrical medium at all. For example:
The hand-wringing young Moritz Steifel, whom Wedekind had kill himself over a bad report card, is transformed, in the musical version, into a punk rocker of such talent and charisma that it's unimaginable that a report card could depress him.
Umm... looks like Frazen missed the memo about Spring Awakening's songs being metaphorical expressions of the characters' inner emotions. It's not like Moritz was debating, "hmm, should I kill myself, or follow this punk rock thing and join a band??" What a douchey imbecile.
Also, doesn't he kinda look like director Jonathan Silverstein's evil twin?
And if there's any doubt about dude's douchetasticness, read a bit of what he had to say about turning down Oprah's book club.