Dry Season March 30, 2013Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.
add a comment
Wow — we’ve hit a dry spell here in SE Michigan — nothing to report on musical theater wise for the past two weeks.
Croswell Opera House has done their casting — you can checkout Croswell.org for their summer season casts (some of which look mighty young this year to me)…
Otherwise — nothing to report until next week, when Memphis hits the Fisher Theater — I’m not seeing this tour — I’ve seen it a half dozen times now on Broadway and on tour, but its highly recommended for those who haven’t seen it.
For those who want to save some money, the DVD of the Broadway cast is available for download from iTunes and Netflix, and for purchase wherever DVDs are sold. It features the original cast in a dynamite live HD recording.
Kinky Boots on Broadway is abso-friggin-fantabulous (review) March 23, 2013Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.
1 comment so far
Take one part Hairspray and one part The Full Monty. Mix together and add in generous helpings of Priscilla, La Cage, and sprinkle it all with tasty performances and shiny design work. Finally, douse it all in a superior score by Cyndi Lauper and strong script by Harvey Fierstein. Season to taste with Jerry Mitchell’s fabulous direction and choreography. What you get is one abso-friggin-fantabulous concoction at the Hirschfield theatre.
An energetic and excellent cast leads you through a strong book musical concerning the rescue of a men’s shoe factory after four generations by the son Charlie Price (Stark Sands in another standout roll) by converting its product to kinky boots made especially for drag queens. Enter Tony-worthy Billy Porter as Lola and the stage is set.
The production numbers here soar, especially the Act One closer ”Everybody Say Yeah” choreographed using moving conveyor belts. But where the show also shines is in the more intimate moments — there is a lot of heart beneath the glitz, and it all feels natural.
Ultimately the show finds its voice in the theme of “accept who you are” but it comes from the most unexpected of places — and the audience tears come quickly, followed by a big Hairspray-like final number that had the audience cheering. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen an audience have this kind of ecstatic reaction throughout a show.
In a year when Matilda will most likely draw the most Tony wins due to its sheer scope and family-friendliness, I’ll be rooting for Kinky Boots. With the best score I’ve heard in a Broadway show in years, Cyndi Lauper should go ahead and write her acceptance speech right now.
Tags: Broadway, Matilda the musical
1 comment so far
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.
add a comment
I won’t go much into the show itself, since there is little one can add to “review” the musical THE BOOK OF MORMON, continuing its tour now in Detroit, except to say that the production is superb, the cast excellent, and the humor as raunchy as ever. Sending our cast of naive white-boy Mormon missionaries off into warlord-torn Uganda, little needs to be said about the plot and developments that hasn’t already either been said, or shown (see YouTube). If you don’t know much about the show and are seeing it soon, the better for you — the jokes play far better if you don’t already know whats coming around the bend, so I won’t say more.
I’ve reviewed the show before when seen on Broadway: http://a2view.com/2011/07/31/the-book-of-mormon-catch-me-if-you-can-sister-act-broadway-reviews/
The show arrives at the Fisher Theater to two weeks of sold-out performances — and for good reason. Appealing to a wide-audience, the Best Musical Tony-winner ramps up the humor but keeps a lot of heart intact. South Park fans will find a lot to love in this very unconventional musical, while musical theater fans will find a lot to love in the excellent execution of it all.
British actor Mark Evans plays a spirited and energetic Elder Price (I am assuming this was some type of trade for Gavin Creel heading off to London to do the part there), but the special kudos for this tour production have to go to the sublime roly-poly Christopher John O’Neill as his sidekick Elder Arnold Cunningham. His facial expressions alone are enough to slay them in the aisles, but he’s a great singer and dancer to boot. A bit more reserved than Josh Gad in the role, he brings amazing charisma and a star-making turn to his role.
The tour is identical to the Broadway show — down to the set and costumes, and if you didn’t get a chance to see it in NYC, see it on tour (it might be easier to get tickets on Broadway these days, the tour seems to sell every single seat within hours of tickets going on sale — check for house seat releases or cancellations a few days before each performance).
If you are among the ticket-holders for The Book of Mormon, count yourself lucky — its an excellent tour that will have you laughing (and talking about the show) all the way home. As usual, just a reminder that this is not a show that is family friendly. In fact, its not even pre-teen friendly. Apparently Broadway-in-Detroit did a pretty good job making sure that audiences know its not for kids — its a great night out for open-minded adults. My mom would still walk out.
ANYTHING GOES and WICKED in San Francisco (Tour update) February 5, 2013Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.
add a comment
While in San Francisco this past week, I had the opportunity to catch up with two favorite Broadway shows on tour — the first national tours of ANYTHING GOES and WICKED. Good news for the former, not so much for the latter.
Anything Goes (which I originally saw in NYC and then on tour in East Lansing) continues to get tighter as it goes. The entire cast is stronger than the original Broadway cast, and Rachel York is simply superb as Reno Sweeney. Erich Bergen is as smooth as a glass of scotch playing Billy Crocker (catch his cabaret act in whatever town the show is currently playing!). Fred Applegate continues to amaze as Moonface Martin. Alex Finke is lovable as Hope, and Chuck Wagner steady as the Captain. Edward Staudenmayer’s performance as Sir Evelyn has grown and grown, and he is a wonder, especially once the show plunges headlong into “The Gypsy in Me” sequence in Act Two. Overall, the Anything Goes tour is one of the strongest casts you are going to see in this very strong production. Do not hesitate to get tickets.
WICKED, on the other hand, is showing its age. While most of the performances in the current first national tour are first rate, some of the cast members have far outlived their roles. Dee Roscioli continues to play a fine Elphaba, but her counterpart Patti Murin as Glinda is starting to look tired. Cliffton Hall sings a fine Fiyero, but is getting too old to play the part. He’s been doing this for a long time, and where he used to look boyish, he now looks like a man…a 40-year old man (he’s 39). Justin Brill (35) is particularly too old to be playing Boq at this point.
The cyclorama is water damaged and wrinkled, and it is particularly startling to see this in a Broadway set. When hit with amber or orange light, the wrinkles show from center stage left all the way to upper stage left. You can tell someone has taken the time to try to straighten things out — because the handprints show in large streaks along the edges of the clockface on the cyc. Its unforgivable. Fortunately, the First National tour is still using the fully realized sets, including the bridge, which the other tour companies have now downsized to flats.
Its a mixed bag overall — but Wicked is in need of some fresh cast members, and some cleaning up and tightening as it continues its journey on its eternal tour.
Funniest TV Quotes 2012 December 30, 2012Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.
Tags: Funny tv quotes 2012, TV 2012
add a comment
Here it is — my favorite/funniest quotes list of the best of TV 2012 — of course, I haven’t seen every show, but of those I have, here’s the annual list! Enjoy –
“Do you smell that? Fresh cut grass.”
“Well, if its fresh cut its not ours.” — The Middle
“I prepared the clams in the traditional way, and then sampled them, and disposed of them. You can thank me very much.” – Happy Endings
Emma: “Got anything in that bag that can help me with a beanstalk?”
Mulan: “A hook.”
Cpt Hook: “Hey!” — Once Upon a Time
“Pastel walls give me the chills” – The New Girl
“So Mike and Rusty made up, which wasn’t too hard since Rusty didn’t even realize they were in a fight” — The Middle
“I don’t know what you two are up to. I think its amazing. I want no part of it.” — Happy Endings
“This place is so unappealing even I don’t look good here” — 2 Broke Girls
“For heavens sake, change out of those wingtips, your a kid…your not Nixon on the beach” – Modern Family
“You have to outsing Anna!…Do you know “Send in the Clowns?” cause I could help you” — Ben and Kate
“Our community has not yet learned how to modulate baby gifts” — Modern Family
“Robin and Patrice’s BFF Fun Day!” — HIMYM
“Do not fall into the evidence, Hodgins….it will only add to the humiliation” — Bones
“You can’t ask Wil Wheaton to leave…he’s a minor celebrity….once you explain who he is people recognize him” — The Big Bang Theory
“We’ve been laughing all night! (long pause). Except for right now, now its just weird” – Suburgatory
“Haley, this is real life, not an excellent movie” – Modern Family
”The thing I learned from ‘Hoarders’ is that it usually doesn’t end well for the cats” — The Middle
“I figured the best way to talk to Models was just to point to things and label them — this table is round and flat” — The New Girl
“That girl is so whack, her first name should be Knick-Knack-Patty” — Happy Endings
“Neither you, nor Cleveland, knows how to get over someone leaving you” – HIMYM
“Oh Damnit, I forgot to punish Brick”
“He didn’t lick another mailbox, did he?” — The Middle
Becket: “Take your hand off your tool, Marco”
Becket: “Shut up” — Castle
“A suicidal lemur has got my gun” — American Dad
“Was it great? No…was it good?….no” — Partners
“Twitter is stupid, and Instagram is Twitter for people who can’t read” — 2 Broke Girls
“Why was this more fun when we were kids?”
“Because when we were kids we didn’t have kids” – The Middle
“See, this is why my people spank” — The New Normal
“I don’t know, I’ve always been a bit of a saboteur” — Happy Endings
“Cleanings not her thing, but she has other strengths”
“Em, I don’t see them” — Two Broke Girls
“I am so tired of people using ‘Vanilla Sky’ to defend everything.” — Happy Endings
“I’m not completely secure when I sneeze” –Patsy, AbFab Olympics Special
“No one is going to judge me on my past. Everyone is going to judge me on my cheerleading talent alone.”
“She keeps saying that like its a good thing” — The Middle
“I won’t change too much — I’ll be like the old me, only a little bit different….like a Coldplay album” — Not Going Out
“That sounds like quite an embroglio”…Cougar Town
“If we don’t find that tutu, we’ll have to cut Clara, which will make us look ridiculous” — Bunheads
“Oh, how very Turning Point” — Bunheads
“That rude Roo ruined my room” — Suburgatory
“I’m only an okay storm, I’m not a perfect storm” — Cougar Town
“You are clearly having thoughts….you should go see the Guidance Counselor” — The Middle
”Want to see some real zombies, check out the red carpet at the Tony Awards” — Castle
“I don’t miss the sex…I miss summer in Minsk….I miss smoking in hospitals.” — Two Broke Girls
” I didn’t roll my eyes…I just had to really quickly look at the ceiling” –The New Girl
“Are you a Bond villain? Cause you just told me your whole plan”…The New Girl
“I was gonna help you, but then I didn’t want to”….Don’t Trust the B in Apt 23
“When I get married, I hope I’m just as pregnant as you”…Cougar Town
“How many times have I said I want to do beading?”
“I don’t know…never?” — The Middle
“These shorts are for a younger person, wouldn’t you say?” — Sprint Commercial
“I’m KFC, baby….you don’t mess with the Colonel’s recipe….” — Barney, HIMYM
“Do you know what the worst part of today was?”
“I imagine it’s hard to choose….” — Modern Family
“There’s no availability at the Inn…” – Bones
“Ive never said you are not good at what you do….it’s just that what you do isn’t worth doing….” – Big bang Theory
“I broke my leg while ski-boxing….it’s a sport created by energy drinks” — Happy Endings
“I knew our group would get weird….now I know what it was like to be in ‘No Doubt’” — Whitney
“Usually my hook is that its closing time and I’m there”….The New GIrl
‘OMG, I have been doing this a long time and I have never seen a credit score that low…did you just
wake up from a coma?”….The New Girl
“Dahlia, you can’t just throw Hangover Monkeys at the problem.” — Suburgatory
“Those people were victims of a Fonzie scheme” – Modern Family
“I have tons of wallet chains you can borrow” — Schmidt, The New Girl
“People are talking…okay, it’s mostly us…and that’s usually how it starts…” — Suburgatory
“I love you….I blew up a Chipotle for you!” — 2 Broke Girls
“I do things….I read half a book about Zombies…” – Nick, The New GIrl
“Can I offer you a Swedish Massage….accent optional?”…Phil, Modern Family
“This is a horrible neighborhood…there are youths everywhere.”
“Youths???…Who are you, Officer Krupke?” — The New Girl
“I don’t think its fair for me to be on a jury, because I am a hologram” — 30Rock
“Now she’s cavorting with dwarves? When did THAT happen?” – Evil Queen, Once Upon a Time
“Oh my God, I’ve been using an old hooker’s lipgloss” — Two Broke Girls
“Damn it, I can’t find my driving moccasins anywhere” — Schmidt, The New Girl
“Its my fault the dog fell in the pool…I let her out but then got caught up in my couponing” – Manny, Modern Family
“Do you know what’s under that hockey jersey?”
“A Family Guy tattoo?” — Happy Endings
“Live long and suck it, Zachary Quinto” – The Big Bang Theory
An update on review policy September 23, 2012Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.
add a comment
Thank you readers for your input and thoughts as this blog develops. A2View Mostly Musical Theater has gone through a period of development. Recent personal attacks on an opinion I posted have caused me to re-evaluate the direction of the blog and reviews. Clearly people find it worthwhile, since I’m getting thousands of hits a day when I post new reviews, and hundreds of hits a day when things are kind of slow.
First, let me remind people that I pay for my own tickets for the shows I review: I do not get any freebies from theater companies. My opinions are my own and are not partial to one theater company or another.
Second, I have long posited that I am interested in appropriate shows in appropriate venues. For the most part, that means fully staged proscenium musicals, with full stage design, and full orchestras. I have strayed from this over the past year to give more leeway to some local theaters and studio musicals. I am no longer going to do that — it will save everyone grief.
Finally, as usual, I rarely review community theater. The rare exception to that is those theaters that present something unique or different (Such as Ann Arbor Civic Theater’s Grey Gardens last season) and those well-recognized near-professional theaters (such as Croswell Opera House) that exceed community expectations. That does not mean that I avoid all community theater — but in order to be reviewed, the show needs to be fully staged, of high quality (or expectation) and fully orchestrated.
When dates conflict, Equity shows will always take preference over non-Equity shows. In cases of touring musicals that are non-Equity, that status will be noted in the review.
There is a wealth of local musical theater. Some of it interests me, some of it does not. I am not a newspaper-funded reviewer. I review what I want to see. That does not obligate me to review anyone. There are plenty of media-funded reviewers available to cover those other events.
As a final note, I will never under any circumstances review another production of Joseph and the Technicolor Dreamcoat or Guys and Dolls. Consider those shows fully-baked in SE Michigan. Put a fork in them, they are done.
iPhone 4S vs iPhone 4 — should you upgrade? (UPDATE: Camera quality) October 10, 2011Posted by ronannarbor in Apple, Entertainment, Gizmos, Photography, Uncategorized.
Tags: iPhone 4s, iPhone 4S camera, iPhone 4s vs iPhone 4
add a comment
SEE UPDATE at the end of this article.
Many of my clients have asked me about the iPhone 4S, and should they upgrade….here is my take:
Second, if you have a 3G or older, absolutely upgrade. You will be amazed what the iPhone 4/4S range can do.
Specifically for owners of the current iPhone 4: This is an upgrade that Apple calls a “refresh” — that is, it doesn’t have a lot of major style upgrades, but it does have significant upgrades “under the hood”. The phone is physically virtually identical to the iPhone4. Here is what you should consider if you are looking to upgrade:
1. The processor is faster. The chip in the iPhone 4 is faster (the same as in the iPad) so that programs, web pages, and other applications will open faster. Ask yourself, though, is your iPhone 4 too slow?? Not a complaint I have heard from anyone.
2. The antenna is improved. If you live, or travel, to an area that the signals are strong, you won’t need the improvement. If you live in (say NYC, SF, etc) you will find that the antenna is much improved, and your signal will be stronger. Note for you AT&T University of Michigan fans — this will NOT mean you will be able to get a signal now inside Michigan Stadium during game day when 115,000 friends are all trying to use their phones at the same time. It will mean your signal will be stronger in general. (For my non-Ann Arbor friends, AT&T signals are pretty strong here in SE Michigan).
3. The camera has been improved to 8 megapixels. What does this mean? Well, your pictures will be much larger, and they will be much sharper with less pixelation (visible dots). For many users, it will mean being able to ditch your compact digital camera and use only the iPhone. For others, it would be a poor substitute. The zoom is digital, and marginal at best. There are no controls for speed, aperture, etc. Even basic compacts have that ability (not that most people use it). What it WILL do is give you sharp front-to-back in-focus shots. No artsy shots here (i.e. no blurred backgrounds in your portraits). Most casual camera users want everything to be sharp and clear so this is a great new feature in the iPhone 4S. I’ll try out my iPhone 4S camera as my sole camera on an upcoming trip and give you my verdict. Personally, I can already predict that it won’t have the quality and features that I usually want in a camera, but I’ll see what it’s like to use it for a few days and nothing else.
4. Siri, new to the iPhone 4s is ONLY available on the iPhone 4s and will not be available in the OS upgrade to older phones. In essence, it’s a much improved voice command system. If you use the current Voice Command on the iPhone, you will find that this does more (not only dial your contacts by voice control, but also set appointments and put them into your calendar). The jury is out on this one. People I know who have tested Siri state that it generally works fine. It can not spell and it makes many mistakes (i.e. it might get the date and time of your doctor appointment correct, but it sure won’t spell the name of the doctor correctly). I personally do not know a single friend of mine who uses the current Voice Command on the iPhone. I don’t know if this will change with the iPhone 4s and it’s Siri program, but I doubt it. Your mileage may vary.
5. The new OS software — this will be available as a free upgrade to all current iPhone users, so this really shouldn’t be a consideration for an upgrade.
6. Your contract — okay, let me warn you up front, the iPhone 4S is a “refresh” as I mentioned earlier. It will, however, come with a two-year contract. That’s not a big deal, and the carriers have allowed upgrades within the year at additional cost with extension of the contract. BUT, if Apple surprises people with an iPhone 5 next summer, say, you will not be able to upgrade as in the past. For many, this is not a consideration. For others it is. There will be a non-contractual universal iPhone 4S released in November for the contract-phobes….but it will come at a much higher unsubsidized cost.
In summary: your desire to upgrade might not be in line with the reality of what an upgrade will actually bring. If you are not in one of the categories listed above that would make an upgrade a sure fire “deal maker” I would say that those with a current iPhone 4 have little reason to upgrade at present, and wait for the next iPhone update.
Personally: I am upgrading to the iPhone 4S and should have mine on Friday. Why? Well, you know I want the latest and greatest, but no, seriously — I am interested in the new antenna and the improved signal. I travel a lot and any improvement in the antenna will be an overall improvement for me. Second? My current iPhone 4 is worn out: there are cracks in the back, and it’s seen better days (although it’s only a year old)…I can pay the 150.00 at an Apple Store to have the back replaced, or I can spend a bit more and just get a shiny new model. I opted for the latter. I have my iPhone in my pocket 16 hours a day, so its been well used, to say the least.
Hopefully, this will give you some guidance as you decide if you need the newest model. For the most part, I say no. But there are exceptions.
UPDATE: 10/25/11 CAMERA QUALITY
On a recent trip where I did not take my camera and relied solely on the iPhone 4S, I can unequivocally say that the phone alone, even with 8 Megapixels, is NOT a suitable substitute for a decent digital camera. Photos taken directly out of the camera without any zoom are clear and basically sharp. You can not crop these photos or blow them up or they instantly become pixilated. In general, straight out of the camera, shot is fine — don’t mess with it for size or crop.
Transfer of photos is what it is: I refuse to use iPhoto, being a creature of habit with Bridge and Photoshop. so I transfered the photos through eMail, one by one, to my home desktop. It took half hour and most of the camera battery to send the 15 shots to my desktop computer. This won’t be a problem if you transfer using iPhoto or through iTunes. I imagine it would be a problem if you turn on Photostream and rely on iCloud.
Other quirks: If you open the camera from the lock-screen and then try to use the + volume control as your camera shutter, it freezes up the iPhone. Don’t do this. Open your camera application as usual from the iPhone itself, not from the lockscreen. Apple is apparently aware that this can be a problem on cameras. Wait for a patch.
To zoom in, you need to pinch the screen (as if you are making the photo bigger) and it will bring up the zoom controls. These are quirky and it takes several attempts to zoom in. In general try NOT to zoom in. Zoom is 100% digital, and while it brings your subject closer, all it is really doing is zooming in digitally and pixilizing your shot.
So, to summarize: straight out of the camera, full size photos = usable and generally sharp, capture detail well. Zoom is worthless. And you can NOT use the iPhone 4S alone as your sole camera if you are in way at all interested in photography and not just simple snapshots of friends.
For comparison purposes:
Straight out of the camera, no zoom, interior, generally well-lit: result – pretty good
50 percent zoom, and then cropped for central 50%: result – unusable
Outback Steakhouse changes Prime Rib recipe — tastes like crap August 14, 2011Posted by ronannarbor in Uncategorized.
Tags: New recipe, Outback changes prime rib recipe, Outback Steakhouse, Outback Steakhouse prime rib, Outback Steakhouse prime rib changes recipe, Outback., prime rib, Why does prime rib at Outback Steakhouse taste like crap?
I don’t normally do much writing about things non musical-theater related on my blog, but since I am getting thousands of hits a week, I felt it was my duty to warn of a recent development at my beloved Outback Steakhouse.
Outback Steakhouse has changed the recipe for its prime rib — the same recipe that we have all known and loved for the past thirty years. It now has a thick, black rub applied to the exterior that is “herb based” according to my server, but which is basically just lots of pepper and rosemarie. The prime rib, no kidding, tastes like a slab of evergreen tree thrown on the plate, and it looks awful.
Gone is the decades-proven very lightly smoked flavoring with no rub…that prime rib used to call my name every Sunday afternoon for years and years. Goodbye dear friend.
In short, the new recipe tastes like crap, and I won’t be ordering it again. Don’t be fooled by the servers who say “it’s a great new recipe and I love it!”. When I asked three separate servers today if they had been instructed to say that, they said yes, and all three agreed that it is not as good.
And it tastes like crap. Stay away. You have been warned. Stick with the other entrees at Outback Steakhouse. I’ve written to Outback’s corporate. I suggest others do the same. Otherwise, this crappy tasting “new normal” is here to stay. You can contact Outback Steakhouse here: http://www.outback.com/contactus/generalcomment.aspx
Tags: Brooks Ashmanskas, Burt Bacharach, Dick Latessa, Hal Davis, Katie Finneran, Ken land, Kristin Chenoweth, Neil Simon, Peter Benson, Promises, Review, Rob Ashman, Sean Hayes, Sean Martin Hingston, Tony Goldwyn
add a comment
Chalk another one up for Director/Choreographer Rob Ashford as he leads a talented and very funny cast of actors/singers/dancers in the Broadway revival of “Promises, Promises” which first appeared on Broadway in 1968. The Book written by Neil Simon, Music by Burt Bacharach, and Lyrics by Hal David instantly transport you to the 60′s; as does the set design, costume and wig work, and lighting.
Sean Hayes carries the comedic role of Chuck Baxter with stage presence, comedic timing practiced on years of episodes of Will and Grace, and charm. His singing voice is fine for the part, although he struggles a touch with higher notes and some of the endings of songs have been shortened so he doesn’t have to hold the notes as long as Jerry Orbach was able to in the original production.
Kristin Chenoweth is in fine vocal form in the role of Fran Kubelik, and this production gives her two additional songs added to the score (“I Say a Little Prayer” and “A House is Not a Home”). Many in the audience were clearly there to see Kristin, and she gets cheers and hoots after every song…the same annoying response she got while in Wicked where younger audience members mistook Broadway songs for American Idol numbers.
Tony Goldwyn turns in a nice performance as Sheldrake, and surprised many in the audience with his clear singing voice. He oozes charisma in every scene, and it’s easy to see what Fran would see in a lout like him. It’s harder to see what Fran would see in Baxter, but that’s where the story goes.
The cast is uniformly terrific, especially in the many many dance sequences throughout the show. Rob has added creative dance touches throughout, including a dance number during the Overture that not only sets the tone, but clearly defines the male/female take on office sexual politics in the early 60′s. They had me at the Overture.
Katie Finneran stops the show as alcoholic one-night-stand Marge. Her comic timing is to die for, and her dance sequence with Hayes earns well-deserved laughter through creative use of dance pratfalls and her own chemistry with Sean on stage. Terrific featured actress work here — look for a Tony nomination.
The set design is colorful and stunning. At times Scott Pask fills the stage with sparse furniture pieces to represent location; at other times he creates complete environments that capture New York City perfectly. Bruce Pask has built beautiful costumes for everyone, and they all look good in motion.
There isn’t a weak link in the cast or design. Jonathan Tunick’s orchestrastions sound “fab” as played by the large orchestra, which retains it’s backup girl singers in the pit.
Promises, Promises is a problematic piece to be sure. Not all of the music is up to Bacharach and Davis’s best work — but some of it is terrific. “I’ll Never Fall in Love Again” remains the signature tune, and got an extended ovation. It was wise to include both interpolated standards to round out the tunefulness of the show, even if they force Fran into a somewhat conflicted role throughout.
Some of the script has been tweaked; a few numbers slightly modified or moved; some awkward scripting reworked. Generous use of ad-libs and clever staging by Rob Ashford tie everything together in a way that makes the show zip and zoom throughout it’s 2 hour 40 minute length.
I had a tremendous time. Its great to see the types of things I grew up with being restaged and re-imagined. And it’s awesome to hear this almost-forgotten score again! Sean Hayes, Kristin Chenoweth, and Tony Goldwyn are true stars, and it shows throughout the production.