Billboard: ‘Grease: Live!’ Freshens a Favorite With Mix of Old and New

Originally published in Billboard.

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Kether Donohue, Julianne Hough, Carly Rae Jepsen and Elle McLemore during the dress rehearsal for “Grease: Live!” airing live on Jan. 31, 2016 on FOX. MICHAEL BECKER/FOX

 

Fox made a bold step into the live television musical arena tonight with Grease: Live!, a technically ambitious production that upped the ante set by NBC’s recent shows by adding multiple soundstages, exterior shots, and a live audience.

Unlike NBC productions including The WizGrease: Live! was based primarily on the 1978 film version of Grease, with story structure, sets, and even a significant portion of the script coming from Bronte Woodard’s screenplay (based on Allan Carr’s adaptation) rather than Jim Jacobs & Warren Casey’s script to the 1972 Broadway musical on which it was based.   Continue reading

Medium: Blood, Sex, and Tears – The Queer Theater of Little Shop of Horrors

Originally published on Medium.

I found myself with an unexpected case of “the feels” last night at Little Shop of Horrors at Encores! Off-Center, so I sat down to word-vomit a bit on Tumblr to see if I could make some sense of the show. I received an enthusiastic response, so I thought I would clean my words up a bit and share them here.

Ellen Green and Jake Gyllenhaal in Little Shop of Horrors. Photo: Joan Marcus

Ellen Greene and Jake Gyllenhaal in Little Shop of Horrors. Photo: Joan Marcus

Little Shop feels like a show I’ve known my entire life, but I know that’s not true, because I remember that my first encounter with the show, which like most people my age and younger, was an encounter with the movie. The film premiered in December of 1986, when I was almost nine years old. I loved monster movies but was scared of horror movies, so I think I skipped this one in the cinema until someone could assure me it wasn’t gory. I know my older brother had seen the stage production and loved it — although that might have been later. Memory is funny. I remember him telling me about the end, where vines from the plant descended from the rafters over the entire audience, and I was enrapt with the magic of theater, even though it was only theater of my imagination. Continue reading

CastAlbums.org: REVIEW: Marin Mazzie: Make Your Own Kind of Music – Live at 54 Below

Originally published on CastAlbums.org.

marinmazzieFor years, when you polled Broadway fans for their choices of singers they wished would record a solo album, Marin Mazzie‘s name would always top that list. Thanks to the good people at Broadway Records, the wait is over, and once you hear Make Your Own Kind of Music, recorded live at 54 Below, I’m sure you’ll agree it was worth the wait.

The album, recorded in live in February, 2015, takes us on a musical journey through Marin’s childhood, starting with a few numbers she recalls from her parents’ record collection (“Come On-A My House,” sexier than Rosemary Clooney ever imagined it, “That’s All,” and a Sammy Davis, Jr.-inspired “Begin the Beguine,” the set’s only show tune). From there, it’s all ’70s, from the Partridge Family to Barry Manilow, and Mazzie manages to avoid camp to give us knock-out renditions of each and every song. Continue reading

Flavorpill: REVIEW: Anime, Gaming & Theater Combine in “Kapow-i GoGo”

Originally published on Flavorpill.

Kapow-i GoGo

Take one part 8-bit RPG, one part serialized anime, add some cardboard props and a dash of comedy, and you might have something resembling Kapow-i GoGo, a thrill-ride of a marathon theater event created by Matt Cox.

An ideal evening out for those of us raised on The Legend of Zelda and Toonami, Kapow-i GoGo started life as a popular series of brief plays at #serials at The Flea, now reconceived into three somewhat stand-alone plays (Kapow-i GoGo Gooo!!!, Kapow-i GoGo Z, and Kapow-i GoGo RETURNS) best experienced in an orgy of back to back to back madcap adventure theater.

Continue reading

Flavorpill: Review: The Woodsman

Originally published on Flavorpill.

The Woodsman

Any trip to Oz can be measured by the magic encountered on the journey, and by that scale, The Woodsman should be high up on your itinerary. A genre-defying offering from Strangemen & Co. written by, co-directed by, and starring James Ortiz, The Woodsman employs poetry, music, dance, and most memorably puppetry to give Dorothy’s tin companion the Wicked treatment, taking us from his parents’ romance through the moment the little girl from Kansas finds him rusted in the forest. Continue reading

CastAlbums.org: Review: Love’s Labour’s Lost – Original Cast Recording

Originally published on CastAlbums.org.

lllWhen composer/lyricist Michael Friedman and director/librettist Alex Timbers‘s musical adaptation of Shakespeare’s Love’s Labour’s Lost debuted at New York’s Shakespeare in the Park in the summer of 2013, it was met with something of a split response. Fans praised the production’s no-holds-barred approach to comedy and catchy, contemporary score performed by a stellar cast including Colin Donnell, Patti Murin, Daniel Breaker, Bryce Pinkham, Rebecca Naomi Jones, and Rachel Dratch. Detractors found the humor sophomoric and the dramaturgy questionable. Ironically, the sophomoric humor and questionable dramaturgy (which allowed for more non-sequitors than your average episode of Monty Python’s Flying Circus) were two of the things I liked best about the show, which I saw twice during its limited run in Central Park. Continue reading

Flavorpill: Stalking the Bogeyman

Originally published on Flavorpill.

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“This time last year I started plotting to kill a man.”  Roderick Hill, portraying investigative journalist David Holthouse, opens Stalking the Bogeyman with this admission, and it’s clear from the get-go that this is going to be an intense evening of theater. Based on the real story of Holthouse confronting the man who raped him as a child, the stage version has been adapted and directed by Markus Potter, who first encountered the story (as many of us did) in a 2011 episode of This American Life. Potter’s production never shies away from darkness, and in the intimacy of New World Stages’ 199-seat Stage 5 theater, terrible acts of violence and vulnerability are close enough to leave the audience shaken. Continue reading