Theatre Thursday: Holler If Ya Hear Me, Part Trois

holler if ya hear me bannerWe’ve talked about Holler If Ya Hear Me a few times before here. Last time Ink tackled the show, it had not yet gone into previews, and he was hopeful about its tenure on the Great White Way.

Sadly, its run has come to an end: Holler If Ya Year Me closed on Sunday after only a few months in front of audiences. While its producer has suggested that its short run was the fault of the “financial burdens of Broadway”, others have suggested that the fact that the musical used Tupac’s music but didn’t actually tell Tupac’s story hobbled it before it could get out of the gates. Its lead actor, Saul Williams, has suggested that there was more at play in an interview with Rolling Stone:

I also cannot go without saying that there was something deeply embedded in a lot of the reviews that went deeper than just a dislike of the play. (x)

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Theatre Thursdays: Disney’s Aladdin on Broadway and Questions of Multiethnic Casting

Aladdin Broadway cast

Another Disney animated film has made the move to Broadway! Aladdin, which has been in development since 2010, premiered first in a Seattle production in 2011, and finally made its debut in the Big Apple in March of 2014. I was wondering if its journey to the Great White Way was going to give it a Great White Makeover, so I took a peek at the cast bio page. And well, huh. It’s certainly not entirely white-washed as I feared, and we see quite a diversity of actors: many African-American actors, a pretty decent percentage of both Latin@ and Asian actors, a few white actors, and several Ambiguously Ethnic actors. Did the casting directors purposefully say, “Let’s build a diverse cast?” or did they say, “Any brown people please”?  I will explain my concerns in more detail after the jump. Continue reading

Theatre Thursdays: Evita National Tour Review

Evita- Revival LogoOnce upon a time, I more or less swore that I wouldn’t see the Evita tour. I love the show and had never seen it live, but I was insulted that the producers claimed the show needed to close on Broadway due to a lack of qualified leads, while still immediately making plans for a tour. I stuck to my one-man boycott and refrained from buying a ticket. That is, until I got an e-mail offer for $30 orchestra seats and found a third row, limited view ticket. My resolve weakened by the promise of being so close to the action for such a low price, I bought the ticket.

Did the production manage to pierce through my jaded disposition? Read below to find out! Continue reading

Theatre Thursdays: These Characters Are Really Nice Guys

The friendzone and the entitlement it represents are a constant topic of discussion in the feminist community. This mentality presumes that men are entitled to women’s attention, and it also paints the rejected men as the victims instead of sympathizing with the put-upon women. They were Nice Guys, after all, why didn’t women reward their kindness with sex?

sierra-bogges-norm-lewis-phantom

Is… Is the Phantom actually wearing a fedora?

I recently had the tremendous pleasure to see Norm Lewis as the titular Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, and well, the performance was spectacular. But it also got me thinking about the way that the tragedy of the Nice Guy is often an implicit part of theatrical romances. And while at first I thought that these narratives vindicated the Nice Guy struggle, I actually realized that theatre is a great place to go to see Nice Guys laid low. Continue reading

Theatre Thursdays: Sondheim Discusses Into the Woods Changes

Disney Into the Woods Movie LogoWhen news broke that Into the Woods, one of the most popular works by the immensely celebrated Stephen Sondheim, would be made into a movie, there was plenty of excitement to go around. When that news included the fact that it would be produced by Walt Disney Studios, however, that excitement was more than a little dampened. Many fans, myself included, were worried that the squeaky clean company with a penchant for glossing over (or straight-up re-writing) anything objectionable in a fairy tale would make drastic changes to the musical and its very adult overtones.

When Playbill released some comments Sondheim made regarding the film’s production, it seemed all our fears were realized.

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Theatre Thursdays: If/Then

I had the extreme luck to see a bunch of awesome shows on Broadway last week (thanks, Mom!), one of which was If/Then. I had no idea what the story was going in; rather, we’d picked it based on its starring talent—namely, Idina Menzel, supported by La Chanze and Anthony Rapp.

IfThen musical playbillHowever, while the performance itself was definitely spectacular and the show’s premise was ambitious, the show itself was kind of unremarkable.

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Theatre Thursdays: A Pirate’s Tale Interview

pirates tale promo

Arrrgh, Sirrr Tim of Tolbert

Arrrgh, Sirrr Tim of Tolbert

Hello all! PolyglotPisces here to talk with Tim Tolbert, an extremely talented young actor about to take part in a super exciting new musical theatre project. I met Tim when I worked as musical director/pianist for a production of Little Shop of Horrors, where he showcased his powerhouse vocals in the challenging role of Audrey II, everyone’s favorite giant talkin’, rockin’, people-eatin’ alien plant. Little Shop has been an old favorite of audiences and performers for many years, but now Tim will be involved with a much newer show—brand-new in fact—the debut production of A Pirate’s Tale. This project is presented in collaboration with Pittsburgh’s very own Gateway Clipper Fleet, a fleet of riverboats offering a variety of cruises on Pittsburgh’s three rivers. A new musical… about pirates… performed on a boat. How exciting is that?! Let’s get some inside scoop from Tim.

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Theatre Thursdays: Peter and the Starcatcher

While the utter glut of them on the market is oftentimes exhausting, I’m always going to be a fan of fairy tale retellings, sequels, and origin stories. All I ask is that, in putting your own twist on the story, you actually give it a twist. Wicked makes the wicked witch the hero. Ash gives Cinderella a female love interest, and Once Upon A Time makes Little Red Riding Hood the Big Bad Wolf.

I unexpectedly had the chance to see the touring performance of Peter and the Starcatcher last week. Although I own the book the show is based on, I’ve never had a chance to read it, and so I went into the show knowing absolutely nothing about the premise save that it was a Peter Pan prequel. I actually didn’t even know that it wasn’t a musical; I assumed it was, as most of the touring shows that come through my city are. That said, it was one of the most fun shows I’ve seen in a long time, and I highly recommend it.

peter and the starcatcher Continue reading

Theatre Thursdays: Sailor Moon Musical 2014

Sera Myu Petite Etrangere CastFollowing the success of last summer’s La Reconquista, Sailor Moon will once again take to the stage in an all new musical production. This summer’s presentation is titled Petite Étrangere (“Little Stranger”) and will focus on the Black Moon arc of the manga, which makes up the latter portion of the anime’s second season. The majority of the La Reconquista cast has been confirmed to return. So far the only replacement is Koyama Momoyo, who’s stepping into the role of Sailor Mercury in place of Matsuura Miyabi.

Personally, this news makes me very excited. For starters, the fact that Yamato Yuuga is returning as Tuxedo Mask implies that this will be another all-female cast, which is great. Additionally, I am anxious to see how the cast has improved now that they’ve had so much experience working together and being on stage.

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Theatre Thursdays: La Traviata and the Shadowbox

Last month I went to see the opera La Traviata because my friend was performing in its chorus. Now, I never used to like opera. I was annoyed with how difficult it is to understand the words opera singers are singing, even when they’re in English. And I had been negatively affected by the stereotype of the “fat lady in horns”, which is, I think, a very ugly way of singing.

Violetta and maids

Pictured: Not a fat lady in horns.
This is a picture of the main character from the production I actually saw.

Well, I don’t hate opera anymore.

For this production, the problem of translation was solved by the recent trend of “supertitling”, which is projecting translations of the singers’ lyrics above the stage (in this case, from the original Italian into English). And the style of singing was much more beautiful than what I had been expecting. As my opera singer friend explained to me later, opera spans a very wide range of history and musical styles, so it appears I have found one I like. But none of that is why I really loved this opera. More after the break! Continue reading