Tuesday, June 28, 2011


As you can tell by the title of this blog, I am a little obsessed with musical theater.  I have hundreds of cast albums and I love to sing along with them….much to the chagrin of my roommate, neighbors and neighborhood dogs.   Normally, this does not create a problem when I see a show, as I can disassociate.

 However, the London cast album of Sister Act was one of my favorites from the very moment I downloaded it. I wore out my motherboard listening to it so frequently, and I let my freak flag wave and my inner black woman wail along. This is all well and good…..unless the stage show has been so drastically changed that you spend the entire show trying to catch up.  This was my experience the first time I saw the show. The second time I was prepared, so I was able to be my more judgmental self. And the result is:

I still don’t really know how I feel about this show. L

I enjoyed it. It’s fine. It’s got some slow moments. It’s got some funny stuff.  Meh.

Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start, I am told. 

Basically the first half of the first act is lame and uninteresting. Instead of actually taking the time to establish the characters and situation in the universe they’ve created, they are going to assume that you have seen the movie and fast forward through most of that.  Ok, yes, most of the people that see this show will have seen the movie and will understand the premise. But if we wanted the movie…..we would watch the movie and save ourselves $150.00.  And these characters, while based on movie characters, are their own, not mere reflections. Give them some life.

The stupidest song in the show also happens during this time. Ok, it’s not stupid, some of the lyrics are quite clever, but I’ts about 8 hours too long. Ok…that may be a slight exaggeration. “When I Find My Baby” is a song that Curtis sings after Delores has disappeared extolling all the ways he is going to kill her. Like I said, some funny lyrics, but REALLY long and repetitive. And also very poorly blocked. Curtis just stands there singing the song. There’s some great moments for some comedy in this tongue and cheek song that the director just did not take advantage of. 

Another source of angst for me the first time was the fact that they completely changed one of THE BEST songs from the London version. The song is sung by the nuns when they first meet Delor…er Mary Clarence. The song is called “That’s How I Got the Calling” and the brilliant lyrics are as follows:

When I was still a school girl,
standing just about yay high,
I saw the face of Jesus
in a coconut cream pie.
Next morning, there was Mary
in a bowl of special k,
and ten of twelve Apostles
in the salad bar buffet.
Now frankly, I’m an eater,
and I polished off Saint Peter
when my tummy sorta gave a little lurch,
and, I knew,
beyond all question,
it was more than indigestion,
and that’s how I got my calling to the church.

[You found God in junk food?]

[The Lord works in mysterious ways!
So I told mine, now you tell yours.]

[Age before beauty.]

[Death before dishonor.]
My mother kicked the bucket
in the flood of ‘38.
A falling Steinway piano
sent my father to his fate.
All twenty of my siblings
caught the plague, by some odd chance.
And something in the meatloaf
got my uncles and my aunts.
The town I lived in bit it
when a freak tornado hit it,
and the heartbreak took my dog to his reward.
And – I figured on reflection,
I could maybe use protection,

and that’s how I got my
calling to the lord!
(how I got my
calling to the lord)

Yes, that was how I got the calling!

And it was bracing -

But enthralling!

And I just knew I’d do as I was bid.

I’d be overfed -

And I’d be obviously dead -

So thank the Lord I got the calling when I did!

[Now you!]

[No, them!]

The folks from ‘Jews for Jesus'
stuck a pamphlet in my purse.

I heard a voice while playing
‘Sergeant Pepper’ in reverse.

I prayed and then by golly,
my psoriasis was healed.

People always told me
that I looked like Sally Field.

I had a revelation
when I skipped my medication.

The outfit just did wonders for my frame.

And, yes it may be odd
to get a wake-up call from God.
But in the end, I got the calling, and I came.
(I got the calling and I came)
And that was how I got the calling,
(La La La La La La )
And gave my life an overhauling
(La La La La)

And it was loud -

And firm -

And oh, so clear!

Yes it’s quite a jump.

But I’d be lost -

Afraid -

A frump!

So thank the Lord I got the calling,
and I’m here!

[Saved the best-est for last-est!]

[Oh, oh, she hasn't gone yet.]

[Oh no, not me, I can't - I didn't -]

[Mary Robert wasn't exactly called to the convent,
were ya, Mouse? Tell her.]

You see... I mean... it’s kind of like, I –

came here as a tot.

What I mean is...

left here at the door.
[Go on.]

And I don’t know if I’m...

... supposed to be a nun -

or -



hard to say, but after all,
that’s what the call if for.

[Right? So! Spotlight's back on you,
sister. 'Fess up!]

[O-kay... Ah...]
Me and... sister sledge...
We had a ministry, I guess.
Uh, working at our lady of...
perpetual... excess...
We’d go among the village... people...
everyday... well, night.
Lifting up the sinful
and helping the uptight.
Then suddenly one day
it was like, bang!
And right away I saw the light
and screamed "Sweet Jesus Christ"
and such
And... I asked to be secluded
in this hellhole just like you did.
And that’s how I got the calling,
pretty much

How she got the calling
pretty much.

And that’s is how I got the calling.

It was sublime -

and yet appalling!

And it was oh, so right in all respects!

Sweet as mountain honey -

and as wild as summer lightening -

and as warm as woollen mittens -

and so fierce that it was frightening -

and as bright as new-cut flowers -

and as swift as April showers -

and orgasmic as a night of sweaty sex!
[I'm sorry, was that out loud?]

If it never came -

If all our lives were just the same -

Well, heaven knows what might’ve
happened to us then...

But we got the calling.
Thank the Lord we got the calling.
We’re so glad you got the calling,

What I LOVE about this song is, in one song, it introduces you to the whole litany of people you will be cheering for over the next 2 hours. It has different personalities and backgrounds and levels of humor.  What they replaced it with was a really lame song called “It’s Good to be a Nun” which just basically went through things the nuns liked to do like “Pray and Wake up at 4am”. BORING! We all know what nuns do but learning how they became nuns is MUCH more interesting.

So if you can make it through the first 30-45 minutes of the show to when Mary Clarence is forced to join the choir, you are golden. From then on it’s a thrill ride of choral magnitude and very funny.

The through line and the very heart of the show is Victoria Clark as Mother Superior. This Tony Award winning actress is the very definition of class and every note she sings is pure and beautiful.  Her character, while not as goofy funny as Maggie Smith, has so much heart that you can’t help but love her.

As for Patina Miller…..I made people listen to this recording because she was so fantastic. Unfortunately she does not have the moxy to back up a live performance. Both times I saw the show she held back and cheated on many phrases and notes. Now I understand that this is a difficult score to sing and she really does have to carry the load. But that is what you get paid $3000 a week for. This is what actors and singers are trained to do. GROW SOME BALLS!!! Ok, well don’t do that because then you really couldn’t hit the notes. But COME ON. You were nominated for a Tony….deliver the goods!! One thing that always stuck with me when doing theater was that every audience member deserves the same show. They paid the same money; do not give them an inferior show. It doesn’t matter if you’re sick or sad, or retaining water, every audience should get the same level of performance from an actor. Patina’s acting teacher obviously never taught her this. 

And she it completely upstage by the amazingly talented Marla Mindell as Mary Robert, the adorable postulate, who has the pipes of a banshee….in a good way. This woman’s chest voice knows no bounds and she can belt like a motherfu**er.  She is definitely worth the price of admission.

The other favorite from the movie, Mary Patrick, the chubby ball of sunshine played by Sarah Bolt…is cute….but really missing that spark and trying to force the Kathy Najimy (who played the role in the movie) just a little too much. Any of you who know my friend Erin Schneider should facebook her and tell her to off this chick and steal her role. She would be perfect. Go. Do it. Now. Thanks.

Overall I think this show would be mucho enjoyable with a better director. The set is fabulous. The costumes, though epilepsy seizure inducing, are gorgeous. And there really is a lot of heart; it just needs a stronger beat.

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Addams Family (Snap Snap)


            On my first day of work, my supervisor asked if I was interested in free tickets to a show that night. Duh. Had he not gotten the memo that I would work 40 hours a week with no salary and accept free tickets as my payment!?

            I managed to not be too enthusiastic and replied that I would be grateful for tickets, and he went off to find me some. A short time later he came back with tickets to….The Addams Family. Now, I know that at this point he was a gift horse, and I did my damndest not to look him in the mouth, but I did feel a small sense of disappointment. I had absolutely no interest in seeing this show, having heard nothing but terrible things about it.  

            However, my mama raised me right, and, with the exception of candy from strangers and scabies from trickers, I don’t reject anything that’s free.

            So I dragged my friend, Adam, along with me because my mama also taught me that misery loves company.  And I have to admit, I was surprised. Surprised that the show has been running as long as it has. It’s so bad.

            The plot is ridiculous, the music is forgettable, the costumes are lazy and the characters are just not the Addams’ we have come to know and love. 

            The story now revolves around a “grown up” Wednesday Addams who has fallen for a boy and intends to marry him. However Wednesday and Pugsley are basically the same age they’ve always been so how she sped through puberty straight to marrying age is never really clarified. 

            The acting, for the most part, was good for what they had to work with. I feel fortunate that Nathan Lane had departed the show before I had to sit through him playing straight, as I am not a huge fan of his anyway. I was lucky enough to see Tony winner Roger Reese as Gomez.  Though Roger is not a musical theater actor, he was very charming and charismatic and, within the very tight confines of an unfunny script, funny. 

            I have long been a fan of Bebe Neuwirth, however watching her in this show was like watching Donald Trump affix his toupee. Tragic, yet boring.   I was really hoping for a redemption, as the last time I saw her was several years ago when she went back into Chicago, playing Roxy (shutter), following hip replacement surgery.  Now I normally loves me some Bebe, but she is not a Roxy type, and Fosse dumbed down for a healing hip-replacementist is just sad.  So I was really hoping to fall in love with Bebe again.  But you could tell that she had just given up and was just going through the motions.

            The only other stand outs in the cast were the always hilarious, though poorly used, Jackie Hoffman as Grandma; Rachel Potter as Wednesday has a killer belt that gave me delicious chills, and Heidi Blickenstaff, the hilarious diva of [title of show] fame.  

            The highlight of the show, and the focus of my attention for those very long 2 hours, was the technical aspects. The set is really cool. First off is a very large beautiful red grand drape that I will, someday, use as window dressing in my apartment.

            The set has two large stair units that split in half and move into many various positions to effectively create different levels and rooms of the house.

            There is also a lot of puppetry in the show. Memorable appearances by Cousin Itt and an amorous curtain tassel, a rodent eating plant, a giant squid and a miniature Fester. But you can get on playbill.com and see video of how these were created and see them in action and not have to sit through the show.

            As most of Lippa’s scores, in my humble opinion, the music was disjointed and forgettable. A few catch tunes or phrases within a tune, but really no overall tunes you would want to take to an audition or big 11 o’clock numbers.

            Mainly you would be better served watching Addams Family movie or even, I shutter to say it, Addams Family Values.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

New scoring system

I have decided to impliment a scoring system. I will give 1 to five comedy masks for positive aspects of the show and 1 to 5 tragedy masks for negative aspect and then give an overall average rating of the show.

Why? Cause I thought it would be fun for me. So there.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

Priscilla Queen of the Desert

          When I first heard that they were making a stage musical out of one of my favorite cult classics, Priscilla, I cringed in fear; as I usually do when movies are being converted to stage form.  However, I can honestly say that I have never had this much fun in a theatre before.
          This show is jam packed with heart, amazing music, wonderful performances, mind-blowing costumes and just utter, utter fabulousness. It is a roller coaster of non stop energy and laughs.
          The show’s semi-narrators are, as I refer to them, the flying divas. The three proud Marys open the show by flying in from the ceiling, in full glitz and glamour, and astound you with a rousing rendition of “It’s Raining Men” while below them some very attractive dancing boys shake their groove thing in rainbow zoot suits.
 These ladies pop up often during the show, mainly while the bus is traveling or our actors are “transitioning” and sing such hits as “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”, “Hot Stuff” and “I Say a Little Prayer”. They always show up with pounds of glitter, eye shadow, sequins and foot high maroon wigs and of course lots and lots of attitude (in a good way!).
The baton is then passed to another diva, known as Miss Understanding (naturally), who is the Emcee club our antagonistic protagonist glumly performs in. I mention her/him specifically because his/her impersonation of Tina Turner is stunning….as are his legs, and just as comparable.
Will Swenson (the token straight actor in the show) portrays our first drag queen, Tick/Mitzi with elegance and heart, and while his voice is not a pure as the rest of the cast, it does have personality and isn’t (completely) pitchy. Upon receiving a phone call from his wife (yes, you read that right….though if you’ve seen the movie none of this is a surprise!) that she is ready for a vacation from raising their 8 year old son (yes, you read that right….though if you’ve seen the movie none of this is a surprise!) and offers him and three friends a job performing in her casino in the middle of nowhere Australia.
Tick/Mitzi calls his best pal and confidant Bernadette, whom he discovers is mourning the death of her lover. What follows is the best funeral sequence ever conceived. This sounds morbid, but it is absolutely wonderful. It is the funeral you imagine when fantasizing the funerals of Elton John, Liza Minelli and Liberace (not that you fantasize about their funerals, but if you did….just sayin). It’s the kind of celebration of a life that any good Queen worth their weight in boas prays for.
Tony Sheldon portrays Bernadette and his is one of the most transformative and amazing performances I have had the pleasure of witnessing. He not only acts this role, he lives this role on stage. He is so immersed in the trueness of this character that you have no doubt believing in and falling in love with him/her.
Next we meet Adam/Felicia who has the fiercest body of his fellow actors, but also the least to offer as far as acting. He’s not terrible, just very forced (much like Guy Pearce was in the movie, so maybe it was a choice) acting. Lovely voice and terrific dancer, but nothing near the amount of hear the rest of the cast wears on their rhinestoned sleeves.
The set is mostly suggested by small pieces, but not in a way that you ever doubt where or you are or are distracted. The lighting is breathtaking. The bus itself is a 20ft LTD display and it is a joy to witness it being “painted” right in front of you as well as several light shows, sky displays and sunrises/sunsets that are presented.
The featured characters such as Cynthia (think dirty ping pong!), Bob and Shirley are hilarious as well, and the ensemble is an adrenalin army with tireless energy, that portrays many characters, both in and out of drag. They feature the awesome choreography in a way that makes you want to get up and dance along, is it weren’t for those bad knees.
I can’t start in on the costumes, or this would be 900 pages long. Suffice it to say, the costumes are worth the price of admission 100 times over. Even if you have seen the movie, they are wonderful to behold in person. 
The music, also, defies mere mortals descriptions. They are songs you’ve heard a million times on the radio, CD, MP3 or 8-track, but with this powerful blend of voices, you ain’t heard ‘em like this.
I have seen this show three times. I say this with no shame. I will continue to see this show as many times as possible, because for all the crap I have sat through in my life, it is wonderful to sit through a show that is JUST PLAIN FUN!!!!!