Theatre Thursdays: Select 2013 Tony Performances

For the second year in a row I was unable to watch the Tony broadcast (grumblegrumble *work* grumblegrumble *adulthood*), so once again I must turn to YouTube to see the performances. Rather than posting all of them like I did last year, I’m just going to post the ones I was most interested in for this year’s ceremony.

Motown: The Musical

I’ve kept a tentative interest open on this musical since I first heard of it a few months ago. The story of black artists in the music industry is rife with drama and can certainly make for great musical theatre but I wasn’t sure to what extent this show would be a jukebox musical so I figured I’d wait and see some more from it. Would it include well-known songs in addition to an original score, or would it be entirely comprised of existing music?

Judging by the performance it seems to be the latter option, which doesn’t exactly thrill me. Just to be sure I checked out the show’s broadway.com page and found this in the description: “an explosive new musical featuring almost 60 of the most beloved hits in the Motown music catalogue.”

Good Lord, 60?? Even sung-through musicals barely reach that high of a song count! I don’t feel this is one I’ll personally try too hard to see, but the cast looks and sounds phenomenal and it’s been selling really well every time I check the Broadway grosses so there’s clearly an audience for it. Maybe it really comes together when seen as a whole so if it tours I might give it a shot.

Cinderella

Though nominated in the Best Revival category, this is technically the first Broadway production of Cinderella, despite it being over 40 years old. This doesn’t really have anything to do with the performance, I just found it shocking and thought it was worth sharing so you could be as dumbfounded as I was when I learned this little fact.

The performance here is lovely; this cast is great, but the biggest stars of the number are those costumes! I mean, did you see that??? Those dresses just morphed in front of your eyes! And they do that live and in person eight times a week! I understand the basic concept behind the design but the flawless execution is beyond my comprehension. It is simply magic. Thank God they took home the award for Costume Design.

Matilda

Beautiful performance. The cast has performed the “Naughty/Revolting Children” combo a few times already to promote the show on various television programs so I’m glad they also included “When I Grow Up” to make it a little more special for the Tonys and just because I love that song (or at least, what I’ve seen of it since I still haven’t seen this show). I love that it calls attention to the fact that “When I grow up” is kind of an ever-moving goal; we continue to grow throughout our lives and probably never really feel like the all-knowing, fearless, confident beings we thought we would become when we became “grown-ups”.

Guh, I just really love everything I’m seeing/hearing of this show and am dying to see it.

Bring it On: The Musical

I pretty much gushed about this show when I reviewed it so of course I was pumped up for their performance! I think this is the first time I’ve ever actually seen a show before it performed on the Tonys, so maybe that’s why I’m feeling like something is lacking from this showcase. I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something seems off to me. Maybe it’s that the show closed and the cast hasn’t performed together in almost six months; maybe it’s the cuts made to the song to shorten it; maybe it’s that the lighting cues seem just a teensy bit behind; or maybe it’s just because this number was so phenomenal live and that can’t quite be re-captured when seen on video.

It’s probably that last one, since the experience is so great in my memory it just can’t be matched by anything other than a live, in-person performance. I’m glad this song was performed because it’s one of my favorites from the show and it shows off a decent amount of the cheerleading and most of the cast gets to shine, though it’s a bummer the song doesn’t feature Taylor Louderman’s character since she was more or less the lead and did an excellent job. I’m really glad Ariana DeBose got the spotlight for her section though, because she was one of the standouts for me when I saw the show but hasn’t gotten much mention in reviews I’ve read of the show (including my own, which I rather regret) so it was great seeing her work the stage in her featured part.

Kinky Boots

I think this show looks pretty great. Cyndi Lauper did the music; Jerry Mitchell the choreography; and it’s about the creation of the perfect drag boot so everything about it says it’s gonna be a fun night at the theater. This performance is exciting and though it doesn’t really revolutionize my view of the show, it reinforces my desire to see it.

Pippin

Still just in awe of this production’s seamless incorporation of the circus performance into the show. It works so well with the music and the Fosse-style choreography and I don’t have much to say about this that I haven’t said before: Patina is still flawless; the production is still gorgeous; and I still want to see it. Thankfully, it’s touring.

Well, despite my intentions I think I ended up talking about almost every performance. Whoops. Well, it was a night of great performances, what could I do? The ceremonies seemed pretty nice this year. I’m glad they were once again held in Radio City Music Hall because I love the grandeur of that huge performance space and i really liked that the casts of other shows introduced the performances. Even if the connection between the two shows was pretty forced at times, it was good to see them there to remind people that so many great shows are still running and gave a good sense of the community of Broadway. Hopefully something similar will be done at next year’s ceremonies.

And hopefully I’ll be able to watch them live, because I’m sick of having to rely on YouTube!

Theatre Thursdays: Matilda the Musical

Matilda the Musical LogoBroadway’s latest London import is the musical version of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, and I have to say I am really excited for it. I’ve never read Matilda but I always loved the movie. Athough I know this is based on the novel, it doesn’t seem radically different from the film, which follows a young girl named Matilda who has emotionally abusive parents and attends a school with an emotionally and physically abusive headmistress known as The Trunchbull. Through this adversity Matilda develops telekinetic powers which she uses to fight back against her tormentors.

Broadway.com has begun a video series about the making of the show and in the first episode the librettist pretty much outlines what I find so appealing about the show:

This idea that children don’t necessarily know more than adults, but have stronger convictions to what they believe is right and wrong is so true and so important. It’s easy to see this story as a bunch of bratty kids throwing a tantrum, or as a cliched “Bless the poor children” tale of under-appreciated youth, but instead the creative team seems to be coming at this story from the point of view of the children themselves. Doing this helps the work to feel more honest because so often when kids are written by adults they are written the way adults view childhood and usually come out exceedingly cute, bratty, intelligent, or ignorant. It’s hard to find writers who really capture that childhood isn’t so innocent and sweet or cruel and spoiled as adults remember.

I’m currently obsessed with the song “Revolting Children” which really captures this theme well:

I find the song clever in its use of the word “revolting” which The Trunchbull always uses to describe the children at her school by taking it from the adjective meaning “disgusting” and using it instead as the verb as in “being in the state of revolt” while the kids decide to stand up to their headmistress. The kids aren’t having a fit or simply complaining; they’re empowering themselves and taking back their dignity from someone who mistreated them.

Never again will I be bullied!

Never again will I doubt it when

my mummy says I’m a miracle!

Never again!

I find these lyrics beautiful and powerful because no one should be bullied or doubt that they have intrinsic worth and dignity. If the rest of the show supports this theme as well as this one number does I have a feeling it will quickly become one of my favorites.

The Broadway production is currently in previews with an opening date set for April 11 and tickets are starting as low as $37! If you’re in the city I’d say it’s probably worth a try for such a low price because barring lotto/student rush, you’re not usually going to find tickets that cheap for any show, especially one with the kind of name recognition this one carries. If I get a chance to see it I’ll certainly post a review here with a more informed opinion but right now I’m loving what I’ve seen thus far.