Tags: Broadway, Matilda the musical
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Matilda the musical, now playing at the Shubert Theatre on Broadway, is a naughty big brash musical comedy freshly imported from London where it won a record number of Olivier awards a few months back. Half of that cast has come along for the ride.
It probably helps to have read Roald Dahl’s book prior to seeing the show: some audience might otherwise walk away from this show thinking “what the heck was that?” — it plays differently to adults and kids: adults can see the destructiveness of the dysfunctional parents and teachers on an otherwise genius young girl (a superb Bailey Ryon at my performance), while kids take the characters for what they are and revel in the revenge story. Its the rare musical these days you can take your 8-year old to that they will sit captivated by, while also entertaining you.
Bertie-send-him-his-Tony-now-Carvel plays a lunatic headmistress Miss Trunchbull in kinda the weirdest drag you will ever see on any stage anywhere. Lesli Margherita and Gabriel Ebert are terrific as Matilda’s white-trash parents, the Wormwoods. Ryan Steele turns in a fantastic dance role as ballroom dancer Rudolpho and Lauren Ward is practically perfect as Miss Honey.
I’m going out on a limb to say Matilda will pull a “Billy Elliott” at the Tonys this year and win everything except best score — Tim Minchin’s lyrics are ridiculously funny, his music bland and repetitive without a single standout. When it finally gets rolling with the luscious “My House” in the show’s penultimate scene, it peters out before you know it.
Peter Darling’s choreography is outstanding throughout, with “School Song” the highlight. Matthew Warchus directs as if the musical is Benny Hill on acid…sometimes its brilliant, sometimes it falls into British pantomime…but it is never ever dull. Your tolerance of the show will completely depend on your enjoyment of broad-stroke pratfalls and slapstick. Really big, over-the-top slapstick.
The audience ate it up. The kids (many many many) in the house loved it. What the heck, pack up the car right now and head to the Shubert for this season’s biggest hit.
Kevin Rose in Concert – Encore Musical Theatre (review) February 13, 2013Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, Entertainment, musical theater, Musicals, Theatre.
Tags: Kevin Rose
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Every now and then, a rising star swings through the Ann Arbor area, most recently thanks to Dexter’s Encore Musical Theatre Company, and treats the audience to an evening of polished, superb Broadway fare that really makes you think about the amazing talent out there in the world, and how fortunate we are in the area to have them drop by.
New York City-based Kevin Rose (recently appearing in Plaid Tidings, and now the title role in Joseph…Dreamcoat) took a night off from his normal musical theater duties to present a sublime evening of (mostly) love songs from Broadway, off-Broadway, and even a little Beatles sprinkled in. Supported by the ever-charismatic Sebastian Gerstner and pitch-perfect Thalia Schramm, clear-voiced Rose sang through delightful songs from She Loves Me, West Side Story, Into the Woods, Carousel, and some lesser known shows like I Love You Your Perfect Now Change, I Love You Because, and (ever workshopping) Elyria. Accompaniment was provided by R MacKenzie Lewis and his three-piece ensemble.
Rose’s voice is particularly lush in ballads like “If I Loved You”, and “My Funny Valentine”…but he also has a delightful mischievous side that had the audience rocking with laughter often throughout the 80 minute set. His musical choices are good, and the entire evening very well rehearsed and energized. Its a concert cabaret performance he can take with him anywhere, and I hope he does. Rose joins an ever-growing number of performers like Laura Osnes and Erich Bergen who can ply their wares nationwide, and share the enthusiasm of musical theater wherever they are through their cabaret performances. Meanwhile, you can catch Kevin in Joseph through March 3rd at the Encore.
SMASH is back, and its as infuriating as ever… February 8, 2013Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment, musical theater, Musicals, TV.
Tags: Smash (2013), Smash NBC
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Reviewed after screening the first three hours of the new season (NBC has telecast to the first two hours this week).
Well, Smash is back on NBC, and your like (or dislike) of the show will directly relate to a) your ability to tolerate Katharine McPhee, b) your enjoyment of musical theater as a whole, and c) your like/dislike of soap opera.
Here’s the good news — they’ve toned down the ridiculous interpersonal stories for Messing and her husband (even if it does mean we don’t get to see the excellent Brian D’Arcy James anymore this season) and sent their whining son off to boarding school. They’ve also gotten rid of the horrendous scheming plotline for Ellis (goodbye) and enigma Dev (goodbye).
The many Broadway actors that appear in the show, in cameos, in songs, in backgrounds continues to astound — witness Brynn O’Malley’s excellent little scene firing Jack Davenport. Fun, fierce, and Facebook-worthy.
They’ve also brought on the excellent Jennifer Hudson and Jeremy Jordan, and UM’s Andy Mientus to round out a new storyline. In the first three hours, the show absolutely comes to life when Hudson or Jordan sing — and crashes when the old McPhee/Hilty story comes into view.
And the show actually follows the development of a musical more this season, rather than the soap-opera-like antics of supporting characters. How will the money for the production be raised. How will media rumors hinder the development of “Bombshell”, the Marilyn musical (note to producers: Marilyn Monroe is not interesting, and the musical version already bombed on Broadway), and how will distractions of lawsuits and sexual harassment play into the development of the show.
Pasek and Paul (another feel-good UM success story!) provide some new songs that are a notch above the “everything in Bombshell sounds like it was cut from Hairspray” music of last season.
But that is where the good news ends. The show still depends on time-worn cliches more relevant to soap opera than to musical theater, and a lack of reality that is astonishing…that any single producer or artistic staff of any show anywhere would cast the lackluster McPhee in a lead role over the superb Megan Hilty is just television storytelling of the worst kind. The entire storyline rings false from top to bottom. And when you bring in a rising star like Jordan, why saddle it all down with a ridiculous badboy drug-addict subplot…and throw superstar Hudson into another mother (Dreamgirl Sheryl Lee ralph)/daughter conflict subplot. BLECH.
The musical numbers continue to be the shows highpoint — and they are better integrated into the plotline this season; but the ongoing use of near-public-domain pop songs rather than theater songs is disappointing and panders to the American Idol and Glee set.
I say put Bernadette Peters and Sheryl Lee Ralph into a room and let them duke it out.
Don’t get me wrong, I love to see my Broadway folks at work…but I am not a fan of Smash, even though I watch it just to see what jawdropping disaster befalls the cast each week — like watching a train wreck, and enjoying it for what it is. Still, the show is a notch above most primetime soap-opera fare. But that is where it stands. Its not a comedy. Its not a drama. Its a bizarre mix of soap opera and musical theater. And that’s the view from here.
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It’s hard to make a “best of” list in this area of the country, since the blend of collegiate, community, and professional often overlap and sometimes Community theater productions can be as good as (or better) than some professional productions, while at other times, college shows can look better than Broadway tours….nonetheless, here is my summary of the good, the bad, and the ugly…
The Best overall community theater production this past year was: GREY GARDENS at Ann Arbor Civic Theater. Special kudos to Kathy Waugh for her terrific performance.
The Best summer theater production was: SEVEN BRIDES FOR SEVEN BROTHERS at Croswell Opera House. Its been a long long time since Croswell had such a dance-tacular production, thanks to the Hissong’s direction and choreography.
The Best summer theater production that was indistinguishable from a Broadway Tour: AVENUE Q at Croswell Opera House. It was so good, it was hard to even compare it to other local productions, it had to be held to professional Broadway tour standards — and it was as good as, if not better, than the tour that came through Michigan a few years ago.
Speaking of tours: The best Broadway Tour to come through Detroit was: JEKYLL & HYDE — Broadway Bound with a spectacular Tobin Ost set, and a remarkable performance by Constantine Maroulis.
The best Broadway Tour to come through Wharton Center in East Lansing was: ANYTHING GOES, with a touring cast led by Rachel York that was stronger than the Original Broadway cast.
The best local university musical was: CHICAGO at the University of Michigan. Although it had strong runners-up in SUNDAY IN THE PARK WITH GEORGE (also at UM) and LEGALLY BLONDE at MSU. Also delicious was SWEENEY TODD at Sienna Heights.
Speaking of Legally Blonde: I saw 4 productions of this show, and despite varied levels of good lead performances, it just goes to show that this is a musical that is hard to recreate without a multi-million dollar budget. The Original Broadway production is so deeply visually ingrained (thanks to MTV’s relentless showings a few years ago) that any non-professional production just pales in comparison. One favorite note: in the Croswell production, when the trailer door stuck, David Blackburn hilariously announced “I’ll just use the back door!” and came around from stage left complete with bulldog. It was the biggest laugh of any show I saw this past year.
The best small-cast show of the year: THE LAST 5 YEARS at Jackson Symphony Space — Jayna Katz and Adam Woolsey blew the roof off of the place nightly.
The best “becoming an annual tradition around here” musical: EVIL DEAD THE MUSICAL at Dexter Community Players. Expanding community theater’s boundaries by squirts and bounds, with a strong cast and twice the splatter-power.
I wasn’t impressed much by any of the local professional musical theater productions this year, although there were some mighty fine performances. The Dionysus Theater made a strong debut as a professional theater company with their holiday offering HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS – right out of the gate hitting all the right notes in a finely performed production in a gorgeous proscenium theater space. A couple shows will go without mention here, because I abhor when major changes are made to Broadway musicals to fit a director’s “vision” or a small budget — but it is worthy to mention the lovely GODSPELL at Encore, where Dan Cooney took a show that has become bloated and almost unwatchable over the years, and turned it into a fresh, sparse, and clown-makeup-free delight.
Finally — one “ugly” — the reworked BEAUTY AND THE BEAST arrived at the Stranahan on tour, with a non-equity NETworks production, featuring some of the ugliest costumes and sets I have seen in a Broadway tour. UGH.
“Les Miserables” movie is stunning, emotional, and divisive (Review) December 27, 2012Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, Entertainment, Movies, musical theater, Musicals.
Tags: Les Miserables movie
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Do you hear the people sing? Do you scour all the movie reviews to decide if you want to see a movie or not? Do you trust your Facebook friends and their opinions? It seems everyone has an opinion on “Les Miserables”, the movie adaptation of the long-running stage musical. I, among many, just loved it.
Arriving nearly intact from its stage incarnation, its a good adaptation of the musical, and almost every change made is helpful. A few of the songs have been re-ordered to give them more flow in a movie setting, and a few lyrics have been changed, along with two all-new recitatives that catapult several short scenes into one There is also one new song, “Suddenly”, added for your consideration, Academy (since songs from another medium are not eligible).
Hugh Jackman is a convincing Jean Valjean, and delivers the money songs at full voice. There’s little subtlety in his performance, but it fits the style of this production. Sure, Alfie Boe would have sung a far superior “Bring Him Home”, but Alfie Boe would not have sold 18.5 million dollars worth of tickets in the first day. Russell Crowe, much maligned as Inspector Javert, actually turns in a very decent performance — having seen the stage production in London, NYC, and various tours probably more than a dozen times, I can easily say that he is no worse than some stage Javerts, while a far cry from the best of them. His singing voice is somewhat lackluster: its not off key, it’s not horrible, but it lacks inflection. While lack of inflection seems to be a necessity in rock bands these days (of which Mr Crowe is a longtime participant in addition to his acting career) its detrimental when singing a semi-operatic musical theater score. While his songs don’t soar, I imagine 99 percent of movie goers aren’t going to care, as long as there are lots of closeups of his eyes. One of the movie reviews I read called him a “singing fire hydrant”.
Anne Hathaway gives an Oscar-worthy performance as Fantine, and her “I Dreamed A Dream” will win her that statuette next month. Might as well mail it to her already.
Amanda Seyfried (Cosette) and Eddie Redmayne (Marius) both have too much vibrato in their voices, but their acting is genuine and in the case of Redmayne, at times exhilarating. “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” is emotionally overwhelming. Samantha Barks fares better as Eponine, but then she gets the musicals best songs by far. Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen play the Thenardiers for laughs, and the parts are what they are — they are out of place in the stage musical, and they look even more out of place in the movie. Aaron Tveit makes for an excellent Enjolras. The ensemble is terrific — and if you look closely, you will find dozens of Broadway and West End musical theater up and comers, in particular the guys playing the student compatriots of Marius and Enjolras.
Director Tom Hooper’s approach to the film is to close down some of it into closeup, while opening up other scenes for wide panoramas of sweeping scope. Aside from one odd shot in which St Paul’s Cathedral is visible in “Paris” (the movie was filmed in London), the sets look appropriately Parisian in nature. Most of the movie is filmed using hand-held cameras — now the standard for most action movies, new for musicals to be sure. There are some extreme closeups, and there are dizzying angles and camera sweeps. Photographers refer to putting things in “thirds”…Hooper works, at times, in “fourths” – with Javert, in particular, often appearing in the 4th quarter of the screen with nothing in the first three quarters. Its off-putting, and unique. After awhile, you start to feel that you are part of the action, that you are there, that you are peeking at the action from behind a crate or a ledge above; and Hooper wants it that way.
Les Miserables has always had its debates among the performance set: it’s an operetta masquerading as a musical…it’s a musical with operatic overtones. Its overblown, its overlong, its perfect. It should come as no surprise that the same debate rages now that the movie has been released. Take a look at the Broadway forum “All That Chat” for plenty of vitriol and debate. Reviews have been all over the map.
In reality, I don’t think it matters. Chalk up Oscar nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Hugh Jackman), Best Actress (Anne Hathaway), Best Supporting Actor (Eddie Redmayne), and a slew of technical awards, from costumes to scenic design.
Home for the Holidays, Dionysus Theatre, Review December 22, 2012Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment, musical theater, Musicals, Theatre.
Tags: Dionysus Theater Livingston County, Home for the Holidays musical, Steve DeBruyne
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Looks like Steve DeBruyne and Matthew Tomich have found (at least temporarily) a home for Dionysus Theatre at the Hartland High School auditorium — and its in a small beautiful space with professional amenities that theater companies envy. Its also a short 25 minute drive north of Ann Arbor (half the distance to Croswell for those who head there regularly) and they can use your support.
In a house that holds several hundred, only a handful were in attendance last night for their delightful original musical HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS — think “Bing Crosby Christmas Special” and its about all you need to know about the evening. Its a jolly Christmas-song filled entertaining two hours complete with surprise appearance by He Who Drives A Sleigh.
15 member cast and 5 piece orchestra weave an enchanting holiday spell as they tell their story interspersing on-stage and back-stage antics at a Christmas Eve holiday show. Familiar holiday tunes (some used very effectively here) abound, and there is plenty of great singing, dancing, and all-around fun. Look for a special appearance by “star” Liz Jaffe.
In a uniformly solid cast, Steve DeBruyne, Liz Jaffe, Marlene Inman-Reilly and Sarah Brown are particular standouts, but the entire cast is strong. Steve DeBruyne’s direction is fluid; Brian E. Buckner’s vocal arrangements and band are terrific; and Michelle Marzejon’s choreography fits the bill. There is nice setwork by Phil Harmer, and overall technical touches are very good — much more “ready for prime time” than another local professional theater when they launched a few seasons ago. Also look for one of those special appearances that I covet — Anne Bauman arrives on stage in Act II, sings one song, and calls it a night. My kind of featured role!
But, it appears that Livingston County doesn’t exactly know what to do with a new theater company — so there is lots of education that needs to be done in this community about theater attendance (and behavior inside the theater, which does not include talking, texting, and eating meals). This is a theater that deserves your support — and its only a short drive away from Ann Arbor, and a hop-and-a-skip from points north. Get off at 59, make your first left, and follow the signs to the new High School. But more importantly, help support this new theater company which promises great things. Their next production, the musical 9 to 5 will have better name recognition and hopefully draw from a larger base — but their current holiday offering is a family-friendly holiday treat that goes down easily. Take some time out during this last weekend of their performances and pack up your car and head to Hartland for HOME FOR THE HOLIDAYS.
For tickets, call (517) 672-6009 or buy them online at http://www.diotheatre.com — or just buy your tickets at the door.
“How the Grinch Stole Christmas” musical tour (review) December 20, 2012Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, Broadway Tour, Detroit, Entertainment, musical theater, Musicals, Theatre.
Tags: How the Grinch Stole Christmas musical
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Take a 10-minute book, turned into a 30 minute tv special, and expand it to a 90-minute intermissionless musical, and you have the plusses and the minuses of the holiday musical “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” which is currently playing multiple times a day at the Detroit Opera House on its holiday tour.
There isn’t much critical to say about this production — it looks swell and the costume and set design is colorful and works well. The cast members are covered in loads of makeup and hair design, so they are pretty much interchangeable. I have several friends in this cast, and (honestly) I couldn’t pick them out in the ensemble for quite some time. Though I guess that is what it is.
Stefan Karl is an excellent Grinch, and he is clearly having a ball playing his part. He’s surrounded by an energetic cast, singing unremarkable songs, only the original animated tv version songs stand out (and “Your a Mean One Mr. Grinch” follows you home after the show — seriously, I listened to it about three times in the car on the way home and changed my ringtone to the tune)…and the Grinch stealing the presents sequence is brilliant.
The first third of the show is slow-going, but what follows is a holiday treat — well written, finely performed, and expertly designed, it’s like holiday cookies and milk. Sugary sweet, check. Lump in the throat, check. Grinch’s heart growing three sizes, check. Yours too. Feeling guilty in enjoying this tasty treat, check.
Just to make sure, though, there isn’t any mistaking this production with a typical Broadway show (even though this did run in NYC for several seasons)…it’s a holiday entertainment that is fun for the entire family. And based on this afternoon’s very full (and skewed toward toddlers) audience, families are turning out in droves.
Welcome, welcome Christmas Day…fun fluff, you’ll have a fun time.
Tags: DCP, Dexter Community Players, Evil Dead the Musical
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Evil Dead, the Musical, makes a triumphant return to the Copeland Auditorium in Dexter Michigan by way of Dexter Community Players, who stage the show for a second year in a row — and it is tighter, better performed, and funnier all-around with three-times the blood quotient.
Based on several of the Evil Dead movies, the musical has been a cult hit since it first made the rounds of the Canadian fringe festivals, then onto Toronto, NYC and now taking over the world…(There’s another version playing in Downtown Detroit for the second year in a row as well).
But Dexter’s is something special — its a community show coming together to stage something you would never expect in this otherwise smaller town — one of the strongest overall productions of the show outside of Toronto you are likely to see — complete with original stage effects and other surprises. For extra fun, wear white, and sit in the first 4 rows (called the Splatter Zone) and get drenched in gooey, icky, red-sugar-syrupy blood for two hours — and there is three times the gooey-goodness as last year. Wear a white tux; or a wedding dress; or purchase a white t-shirt at DCP.
I couldn’t get out to see the show last weekend, so this review comes with only a couple performances left…see dextercommunityplayers.org for tickets. And leave the young ones at home — this is R-rated stuff.
Don’t worry about the scares — they are all for fun and absolutely none of them actually make you jump; but they will make you laugh as curses fly, blood and guts splatter the cast and audience; guns shoot; trees dance; and everyone sounds great. Thanks to director Jason Smith for making it all work; Jonathan Sills for some great vocal work and band (which also includes Philip Eversden and Tim VanRiper), and the entire DCP cast and crew for a rollicking good time.
Kudos to cast Peter Crist, Stacey Smith, Corrina Gauss, Chris Bryant, Ann Hernandez, Katie Selby, Neil Clennan, Zak Stratton, Lawrence Bryk, and Nicole Roth.
GO SEE IT. Expect scene changes you can drive a truck through (can’t help it, costume/makeup changes are a bitch); schlocky perfectly timed performances (its what you expect with cheap horror right?) and a really fun evening out in Dexter. For you Ann Arbor folks, that’s a 10-minute drive west of town.
By the way, if you are not familiar with Dexter Community Players work, their shows often give the other local companies (civic or professional) a run for their money in the musical department; witness not only their current Evil Dead, but recent productions of Annie, The Wedding Singer, Curtains and others. Go check them out.
Rocky Horror Show at Croswell Opera House is a blast (Review) October 20, 2012Posted by ronannarbor in Community Theater, Entertainment, musical theater, Musicals.
Tags: Croswell Opera House, Eric Parker, Rocky Horror Show
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The Rocky Horror Show, that bizarreness of a stage musical that became a cult hit in London in the early 70′s and a midnight-movie cult in the US, returns to the Croswell Opera House for its third incarnation in recent years, and its a big, sprawling, hilarious blast of musical theater mess.
Once again directed by Eric Parker, and including many of the original cast (albeit in some new roles) as well as some newcomers, the show begs to ask the question, “why?”….well, why not?
Paul Manger makes for a terrific new Frank ‘n’ Furter as he sashays around the large open set in heels and corset, spitting out the lines and songs with the best of them; Katy Kujala is a great-voiced Janet, and Scotland Mills a fine furry boyfriend Brad. Zane Dickerson reprises the role of Rocky in all his body building glory; Eric Parker is a hilarious Riff Raff, and Kyrie Bristle nearly steals the entire show from all of them as Magenta in the waning minutes of the musical.
To be sure, there are ups and downs in the cast — but everyone is solid in their roles, and everyone has a blast and it shows. Stephanie L. Stephan provides some terrific dance movement and she is wise: she understands who can move, and who less so and she makes the most of that knowledge (a skill required by the best choreographers working with non-professional casts at various level of skill). It all looks terrific on the Croswell stage.
Keith Holloway’s set is serviceable, and projections hilarious. Lighting by Tiff Crutchfield is colorful and appropriate to the mood of the show. Cindy Farnham’s costumes range from decent to spectacular. The one problematic tech area in this production is sound: and in this instance, NOT the Croswell’s system, but the actual sound design. The orchestra (under the sure direction of Todd Schreiber) is located backstage, and they sound muffled. When the ensemble joins them for off-stage background vocals, the vocals can barely be heard. While some of the cast use body mics, the other leads use wireless handset mics. While it ads a great touch of “70′s” style kitsch, it results in vocal inbalance throughout. When the entire ensemble is onstage, with leads using mics, the ensemble becomes a vocal afterthought and they can not be heard clearly. The result is some great looking ensemble numbers that have no vocal “pop”; i.e., it doesn’t sound like a rock score should. There were also some missed soundboard cues, that I am sure will resolve themselves as the show gets further into its run. If ever a show deserved better sound design, this is it.
Of course, Rocky Horror is only as good as its audience participation — and there is a lot of it here. You an purchase a participation goody bag at the concession stand before the show, and join in — and if you have never seen a production of Rocky Horror, take a few minutes to peruse the many websites that give you audience shoutback suggestions. At the friday night opening performance, those who knew the show clearly had a better time than those who did not — and to the audience (and cast) surprise, some of the best ShoutBack audience members were in attendance in the first row. They made for a rollicking (if profanity-laced) evening. You’ve been warned — Rocky Horror itself is kind of a 70s throwback-edgy show, lets rate it PG-13…but throw in that awesome audience participation, and it becomes R-Rated instantly.
If the Friday night audience was any indication, this is one of those shows that will need some extra word of mouth to sell tickets — the audience was about half full. BUY TICKETS. The show is terrific and fast-paced, the cast is hilarious, and you will have a wonderful time at this Rocky.
The Rocky Horror Show continues through October 27th at the Croswell Opera House, Adrian MI. Tickets at croswell.org, or by phone at 517-264-7469. There is also a costume contest during intermission every Friday and Saturday night.
Movie Musical “Pitch Perfect” fits the bill (Review) October 7, 2012Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment, Movies, Musicals.
Tags: movie musicals, Pitch Perfect
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A-capella singing has come a long way since the dorky days of “a capella glee club” which most of us remember from our college years…riding the wave of popular tv-competitions, Glee, as well as the stellar success of the Indiana University Men’s “Straight No Chaser”, along comes the very entertaining “Pitch Perfect”.
Starring Anna Kendrick (here shown with new-hottie-on-the-block Skylar Astin (Spring Awakening), the movie follows the basic storyline of all such musicals: out-of-her-element college girl finds a girl-group a-capella singing group she likes, is pursued by boy-she-isn’t-sure-she-likes and by the end has found musical success and a new boyfriend. Forget the story — see this for the music, the great chemistry between the actors, and the (for the most part) live performances.
Written by 30-Rock screenwriter Kay Cannon, and directed by Jason Moore (Avenue Q), the show rocks more than a few Broadway folks in the show. Astin himself originated Georg in Spring Awakening. You’ll recognize plenty of Broadway folks in the different ensembles that make up the competing a-cappella teams. Rebel Wilson turns in a superb performance as “Fat Amy” and brings most of the laughs to the affair, but Cannon’s very witty screenplay supplies enough humor to keep the movie rolling from scene to scene. Particularly funny is the banter between Elizabeth Banks and Michael Higgins doing the “play by play” at the competitions — in fact, its so funny that lines often get cut off because you are still laughing from the previous line. Think 30-Rock at its absolute best — you know, the scenes you rewind on your DVR and write down the dialogue its that good.
But what makes the whole thing work is the musical numbers. Arranged by a-capella kings Deke Sharon, Ed Boyer, Ben Bram and others, the songs are perfectly performed (and, yes, to some degree autotuned, though it sounds better here than it does on most episodes of Glee). But the staging is real, the production numbers pop, and the competitions feel very real. Look out cheerleading competitions, you might have met your modern-day match.
In a fall season so far lacking much in the world of musical comedy, you can place a sure bet on Pitch Perfect. Go, have fun, eat popcorn, and don’t think too hard. Enjoy the show for what it is, and don’t be surprised if it (or a similar incarnation) finds its way onto the Broadway stage pretty darn soon.