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Cedar Point Live Entertainment 2012 (Review) – Updated including Luminosity and all shows May 25, 2012

Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment.
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Note that this will be updated throughout the year as new shows open at Cedar Point.

ABSOLUTE COUNTRY at the Red Garter Saloon (former home of Tropical Heat Island Beat the last few seasons) looks like this:

Talented Alex Mack is back, playing guitar and singing. The electronic fiddle is back from a few years ago. And the cast has great voices singing through a set of grade-C semi-popular country songs. The sound mixing is horrendous — the singers are often drowned out by the three-piece band accompaniment which is pumped up to such levels that there is no possible way to mix the voices on top without mic-mush rendering the words incomprehensible for most of the production. When things settle down a bit, you can see that this is an incredibly talented cast — but call them seven pretty white kids in search of a soundboard mixer.

The show is a step down from the extraordinarily entertaining Tropical Heat Island Beat which played the Red Garter Saloon in years past. Primarily, the problem here is the music — a selection of country radio pop songs that are not standards and which have nowhere near the entertainment value or general audience accessibility of THIB’s “Turn the Beat Around” et al. I listen to country music and even I didn’t know one of the songs in this collection. Meant to be a clap-along, sing-along, drink-along entertainment, it ends up being primarily only the latter.

The show is what it is, so that’s not going to change for the rest of this season: but what can easily be changed (and must be changed) is the sound mixing, otherwise it’s just an exercise in drum-thumping futility. The very talented cast sing, dance, and entertain to their best ability given the circumstances…I’ll revisit this a few weeks down the road to see if sound problems have been adjusted.

UPDATE 06/08/12 – The sound remains as terrible as it did a few weeks ago — the music overpowers the singers , and the majority of the lyrics here are indecipherable. Not surprisingly, this is NOT the place to be this summer at The Point, as seen twice this past week and not a full house either time.

LUMINOSITY, Cedar Point’s new evening entertainment is in a word spectacular. Live performances (singing, dancing, aerials, drumming, DJ-ing) mix with lights, fire, fireworks, lasers, smoke, and a myriad of other special effects in a 30 minute evening spectacular that ends with decent Fireworks. The largest cast I have ever seen in a CP show (I counted 25 performers, 3 drummers, and countless staff) work their way through a pop rock set of familiar and current tunes, and while some of the voices and dancing here are terrific, some are downright awesome. All four lead singers are strong soloists, together they are forceful. Take time to see this show on your next trip to CP. My only complaint: the show ends when the fireworks do — but the DJ continues to spin music and the implication is that you are invited to stay and dance as if in a big open-air dance club (think Pleasure Island in its heyday)…The problem here is, nobody dances except for the cast. The last thing most tired, coaster-weary, headachy guests want to do at the end of a long evening is to dance. And nobody does. It’s kind of surreal. The lights and music continue, and the audience just sort of stands there after the fireworks asking themselves “Is this over?”….they need some kind of announcement to “stay and dance the night away at Cedar Point” — but no such announcement comes, and that’s that.

I have never been a fan of ALL WHEELS EXTREME, but this years incarnation almost won me over — tightened to 20 minutes, and getting rid of its dancing/cheerleading bimbos, the show is at its absolute best. The stunts are better than ever. The gymnasts more talented than ever, and better integrated into the show. The music is better than that used in the past, and more assessable to the general audience. I…wait for it…liked the show this year!

HAPPINESS IS…SNOOPY is this year’s new ice-skating show at the Good Time Theater (old IMAX theater). It’s an import from Knotts, where it opened last year. This cast seems comprised of some of those folks, as well as some of last year’s CP skating cast, including returning brother/sister pairs skaters Lara and Neill Shelton. The show is an easy-going, elevator-music/smooth pop multi-set and costume change production, that features the season’s best sets (though arguably the Costumes are, um, the most bizarre to say the least). Neill and Lara present two terrific pairs sets, the ensemble skates well, and there are several featured performers whose names are nowhere listed in print at the Point. Trey Ehre (High School Musical on Ice) is the only recognizable one – and he does some terrific work here. The show itself is well-choreographed and colorful, although not as good as the last two seasons (while the skating is actually better). The musak gets tiresome after awhile, and the show seems more geared toward the kiddees than in past seasons….although the Peanuts characters are well-integrated overall, and the plushies skate quite well — sorry to any of you inside those plushies, it must be hell to do that 3 or 4 shows a day. It’s a “cool” way to spend 30 minutes during your visit, so don’t miss it.

SUMMER DAZE is the new show at the Palace Theater in FrontierTown. This is the most unique show I’ve seen at The Point in years. The music is a mishmash of “summer vacation” type songs — but it mixes in some “Pump Boys and Dinettes” and “Ragtime” numbers along the way — and the choreography and staging are the most inventive I’ve seen back in this space. It gives the “front of the park” show a run for its money. The show originally suffered from poor sound mixing, but that has been fixed over the past few weeks.  “What a Game” is the  best-staged number in the show (actually in any show in the park this summer). The cast is strong overall, and sing and dance through their sets well. The scenic design is clever and the pieces move rapidly on and off the small stage. Everything here looks great and this is easily the best directed and choreographed show in the park for 2012.

And that brings me to the “front of the park” show — a repeat run of ROCKIN’ THE POINT at the Jack Aldrich Theatre…spanning music from the early years of rock to the 80’s, the show is a tight, 30-minutes of entertainment that features the strongest men’s ensemble at The Point, and most vocally pleasing cast overall. The harmonies here sound great, and the kids are definitely having a great time. The show (and Luminosity) have the best sound design of the season — everything here sounds great, you can understand every single word, and its all very professional. The downside? The front of the park show always takes the least risks (except for the awful Rock Idol ripoff a few seasons ago), and it’s squeeky-clean. The best musical theater singers/dancers of the indoor shows get the worst choreography and everything feels like show-choir after a few numbers….and in an age where Glee sets the bar for show-choir, this is poorly directed and choreographed. Still, it’s a really fun show, the cast is very very good, and you should see it.

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