Theatre Thursdays: Hedwig and the Angry Inch

hedwig_neil_patrick_harrisAs you may or may not know, Neil Patrick Harris is opening a production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, performing in the titular role, and he looks fabulous. If you’re not familiar with the material, Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a 1998 musical written by and starring John Cameron MitchellHedwig tells the story of an East German singer who goes to great lengths to marry an American soldier and leaves for the United States to pursue her dreams and a better life. Those great lengths include a botched sex-change operation, leaving Hedwig with the titular “angry inch”. Eventually, she makes it to the United States, but in a perfect storm of insult and injury, her husband leaves her on the day she learns that the Berlin Wall has fallen. The real meat of the story is in how she uses love and rock n’ roll to recover from that and pursues her own identity. The Obie Award-winning musical originally ran for 857 performances, and has since seen performances in no fewer than eleven countries.

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Theatre Thursdays: Is Dr. Horrible Sexist?

So when trying to decide what to write about, I realized that we’ve never discussed Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog in depth (although Bacula has done a great review here), which I thought was an atrocity that had to be remedied. Now I wish I’d never thought to write about this stupid musical.

Let me be very clear, I love Dr. Horrible, love it. It tells the story from the villains’ perspective, it asks questions about who is really good or evil (the hero or the villain), it has amazing songs, it was written by Joss Whedon, it starred Nathan Fillion and Neil Patrick Harris. What more could a nerd want? But when I started rewatching this little musical mini-series, I was struck by how much it romanticizes stalking and how it takes away any autonomy Penny might have.

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Book Review: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

coverMany people like to think they grew up weird. Whether they themselves were the oddball in their square family or the straight lace with crooked kin, few can say with absolute certainty that they had a normal childhood (whatever that is). Then there is Jenny “the Bloggess” Lawson, beloved blogger and author of the memoir Let’s Just Pretend This Never Happened. She not only had a very… different childhood, her peculiarity continues to this day. Her memoir chronicles her interesting life so far, with promises of more books in the future. Followers of Lawson’s blog may recognize a few of the stories, but for the most part they are new and super awesome.

cathead1I laughed really hard while reading Let’s Just Pretend This Never Happened, (and while I was supposed to be paying attention in class.) Even though she inadvertently got me in trouble, I bear Lawson no grudge. I thoroughly enjoyed the childhood section of the memoir. Though her family was poor, Jenny, along with her younger sister Lisa, mostly enjoyed their time in a small town called Wall, Texas. The most interesting parts tended to be about her father. When he was not bringing home dangerous animals such as bobcats (and randomly throwing them on people), he was in his taxidermy shop covered in blood, making up fantasy animals, and hanging out with murderers and ex-convicts.

designall.dllJenny’s mother’s motto of “what won’t kill you makes you stronger” was tested on more than one occasion. From “quail” (actually turkey) attacks to radon in the well water, what the family lacked in money was made up in dangerous and potentially lethal situations. It’s a poor pamphlet on parenting, but a thought-provoking section nonetheless.

Another part in the book that would interest a small, but important section of the working world is when she worked in HR (human resources) for a religious organization. Here she reveals a close kept secret of the HR world: they are paid to look at porn. Well, actually they are paid to monitor people to make sure they are not looking at porn, but apparently people are always looking at porn. Really, anyone who has had a job can appreciate this section of the book, because we have all worked with crazy people, or know someone who has. If you haven’t, you are that person. Stop it.

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Know where the line is.

We also read about Jenny’s long-suffering husband Victor (a former Neil Patrick Harris look-alike), their sweet miracle of a daughter Hailey, and her cats Hunter S. Tomcat, Rolly and Ferris Mewler. However Jenny’s life is not all giant metal anniversary chickens and humanly taxidermy squirrels in cowboy hats. Though she has a sharp wit, and a stimulating mind, Jenny has more than a few issues. She has general anxiety disorder which causes her to have panic attacks, and fears crowds of people. She also has rheumatoid arthritis along with other problems that cause her no end of grief. Despite it all she has her sense of humor, and Lawson’s personality shines through every word she writes. There is no one else who is quite like her, and I highly recommend you check out this book. Though I read the book before I started reading her blog, I also would endorse her blog, which she updates regularly.

Sexualized Saturdays: When Gay Guys Play It Straight

Hollywood has a wonderful history of starting off as being an exclusive club for straight, handsome white guys, and there are a ton of straight guys who have played gay guys and will continue to play gay guys.

Now, I do understand that statistically, there are more straight actors then gay actors. When you want to cast a character, you have to cast the best actor you find. If that character is gay and the best actor is straight, so be it.

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TV Review: Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog

Doctor Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is a three-part Internet series that just premiered on TV for the first time a few weeks ago. If you haven’t seen it, it’s about the villain Doctor Horrible, played by Neil Patrick Harris, and his quest to get into the Evil League of Evil. However, along the way he has to face his nemesis, Captain Hammer (played by Nathan Fillion, aka Malcolm Reynolds and Castle), and he tries to win the heart of Penny (Felicia Day), the girl he sees every week at the laundromat. A lot of it is shot as Dr. Horrible’s video blog and there is singing (in case you didn’t figure that out from the title). It is one of many beautiful Joss Whedon creations.

All of the characters had really great depth, considering it’s a forty-five minute program. It’s a real testament to the writing prowess of Joss Whedon (and company) for him to be able to do that. He’s the man.

And you know who else is the man? Felicia Day. She played the sweet, innocent woman who just wanted to help the homeless, but got caught up in the good vs. evil fight of Captain Hammer and Doctor Horrible. Her character is just so real, in great contrast to our caricatured hero and villain.

Neil Patrick Harris is perfect as Doctor Horrible. He strikes an excellent balance between bad guy and harmless nerd guy. He’s like a lost little puppy and it’s adorable. He wants to be a decent bad guy and a decent guy, but as you can imagine it’s a little difficult to balance those. Neil Patrick Harris did a really awesome job and he should get all of the props in the world.

Nathan Fillion is also awesome as the egotistical Captain Hammer. His delivery was excellent. His presence was spot on. He nailed it.

There is just so much perfection in this program. Go check it out if you haven’t already.

Theatre Thursdays: The Tonys!

So did anyone else watch the Tonys on Sunday night?

Just me?

Crap.

Well, they actually put on a damn good show. There was an opening number from last year’s best musical winner The Book of Mormon, general all-around clever wonderfulness from host Neil Patrick Harris, and plenty of musical theatre jokes sandwiched in with the snippets of this year’s best musical and play nominees. I was particularly pleased to see the latter, as I found myself woefully ignorant of even the titles of most of the top shows.

Here’s the full list of winners if you want to peruse it. Once (one of those I’d never heard of, but apparently about a young songwriter?) won eight awards, making it the stand-out winner of the night. Hugh Jackman won a special Tony for being awesome in general (“the Hugh Jackman Award For Being Hugh Jackman goes to… Hugh Jackman,” as a friend put it) and adorably accepted it from his wife. And I was personally pleased in the core of my geek soul to see that James Corden (Craig in Doctor Who series 5 and 6) won the Best Actor in a Play Tony above huge names like James Earl Jones, Frank Langella, John Lithgow and Philip Seymour Hoffman.

The one thing that made me sad, although I totally understood why they did it for the sake of steamlining the show and not turning it into an Oscar-length fiasco, was that they did all the backstage awards (lighting, sets, costumes, etc.) during the commercial breaks, and flashed back to them when the show returned from commercial. As a costumer I’m interested in these, but like I said, I totally understand that most people would rather watch the actor awards and are content with a recap of who won what design things.

In passing, let NPH sum up the awards for you better than I ever could: