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Posts Tagged ‘Broadway’

Once in awhile we latch onto a completely crazy idea and just run with it.  That was the case this past weekend when we took a spur of the moment trip up to New York to see the new production of Hair on Broadway!  We were up and back in one day – it was crazy and fun.  Of course we got to have a lot of fun with TheKara, so that made it truly sweet.

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I’ve always wanted to see this musical performed, but never had the opportunity.  It’s been one of my favorites for ages, and some day I dream of being able to choreograph the show myself.  So to see this on Broadway – critically acclaimed and selling out in its first weeks since opening was a special treat.

Hair is a unique musical in that the plot, such as it is, doesn’t amount to much.  It exists more as a backdrop for a varied songbook that covers everything from rock and gospel to ballads and country(ish).  I was impressed by director Diane Paulus’ ability to present a coherent tale, even if the first half still felt like a continual excuse to trot out another song.  By the time the show approached intermission, the story solidified and we were drawn into Claude’s push and pull decision-making as he weighs freedom of self versus freedom of country; although it may have resonated more in the Bush era, the anti-war message still feels strong and relevant.  The intensity was powerful enough ending the second half that I actually didn’t notice for awhile that the cast was suddenly all naked!  (Kudos for the unconscious beauty of that moment that didn’t seem salacious in the least.)  The show even ended in an unconventional way – the Tribe somberly proceeding out of the theater leaving Claude [Gavin Creel] behind all alone.

Photo of Will Swenson courtesy BroadwayWorld.com

Photo of Will Swenson courtesy BroadwayWorld.com

But it certainly isn’t all serious!  This is a rip-roaring show that celebrates drugs, sex and silliness.  Berger [Will Swenson] was more than willing to play around and show of his…assets…proving to be the class clown throughout.  The whole supporting cast (“the Tribe”) was a delight, including Woof [Bryce Ryness] as a kinda-gay gentle soul, Jeanie [Kacie Sheik] the pregnant smoker, and Dionne [Saycon Sengbloh] the soulful center of the group.  (Sadly we didn’t get to see Sasha Allen of Camp fame playing Dionne, but Sengbloh did a great job.)

The set was simple (very Rentesque), but the costumes were a hippie delight.  I felt like the choreography by Karole Armitage was too simplistic, but it was true to her style, which I can appreciate.

What’s really wonderful about this production is how much the Tribe brings the audience into the experience.  Continually throughout the show they prowled around the aisles – passing out flowers and flyers, toussling people’s hair, and pulling people up to dance.  In fact, after the curtain call, they brought dozens of patrons up on the stage to revel and dance to “Let the Sunshine In.”  It was quite the love-in!

photo courtesy BroadwayWorld.com

photo courtesy BroadwayWorld.com

We also got to meet some of the cast and get autographs afterwards, which was the perfect cap on a wonderful experience (shout out to Lauren Elder!).  It was well worth the drive and I hope this show runs for a good long while and picks up a Tony or three.

Hair on Broadway!

Peace!  Flowers!  Freedom!  Happiness!

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Made in Manhattan

As you may have read on ScottE’s blog already, we spent the Thanksgiving holiday up around New York City.  As is our tradition, we did our best to see some Broadway, and weren’t disappointed.

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First we went to see a little off-Broadway show as TheKara’s “out of left field pick.”  It was a musical called What’s That Smell?, and it didn’t actually smell like much, but it was a good time.  Picture the worst (and gayest) musical composer you can imagine.  Now imagine he has the ego of Tom Cruise and is being interviewed by his biggest (if completely misguided) fan on a cable-access talk show about Broadway musicals.  That’s about it!  Along the way we were treated to a sampling from his illustrious career as a “living American composer,” including his musical rendering of Private Benjamin (“He Died Inside Me”) and a fantasia on shopping malls (best bit – poking fun at Abercrombie & Fitch).  When they got to the line about patriotism in another number – “Like an EAGLE with a BOOB JOB…” I was pretty much dying of laughter.  Of course the best part of the show was when a technical difficulty delayed the show for a few minutes, but the actors tried to keep us laughing.  Sadly this show is already closing by year’s end.  If you happen to be near NYC – check it out!

Then we closed the weekend with our long-planned destination – seeing Daniel Radcliffe (a.k.a. Harry Potter) in Equus.  It’s a play I’ve seen before, and I knew it was powerful and disturbing, but I was still unprepared for how visceral and intense it can get.  Radcliffe was very strong, proving that his experience as an actor has come a long way, baby!  As for the much-reported nudity – it’s kind of not the point at all.  By the time it happens, you’re so drawn into the moment you hardly notice.  It’s a violently gripping scene that will stick with you long after the curtain falls.

Photo by Alastair Muir

Photo by Alastair Muir

The strength of this play was actually in the production values – the lighting was par excellence, and the staging matched it very well.  One of the most intoxicating aspects is the use of large metal masks that mimic horses’ heads which the “horses” wear, along with high heel “hooves.”  They move with dancing grace and immense power.  The choreographer in me was in heaven.

Unfortunately the show has a real weak point, which is suprisingly Richard Griffiths.  The award winner seemed to be phoning his performance in, giving all the energy of a marble statue.  It’s a shame, because his take on the character was refreshing.  It was also disappointing to see the wonderful Kate Mulgrew prove that she forgot how to PROJECT in the THEATER so those of us in the BALCONY can hear her.  (See, you heard that, didn’t you?)

All in all – a remarkable production – the 3 hours flew by.  If you still have the chance to see this before it closes in February (and can get a good deal on tickets), this is well worth your time.

Next up in this space, a review of the film Milk, starring Sean Penn!

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