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“Aladdin” brings Disney magic back to Broadway (review) March 19, 2014

Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, Uncategorized.
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I have previously reviewed Aladdin when seen in its pre-Broadway tryout in Toronto. I now follow with an updated review of the Broadway production as seen today in NYC (the official opening night is tomorrow night). And what has occurred between the show’s pre-Broadway tryouts and now is magic in itself.

I liked the show in Toronto. I loved it in New York. The musical has been pumped-up in color, tempo, and stage spectacle — and my single complaint about the Toronto production was the lack of typical Disney “magic” — but its back. The numerous subtle (and some not-so-subtle) changes all work in the show’s favor — and its quickly rising to the top of the list of musicals to beat this year in many categories.

The movie’s 6 songs are augmented by 14 new numbers (though some are reprises). Some of them were written for the movie and cut, others are original (with additional lyrics by Chad Beguelin). The other biggest problem (what to do with Aladdin’s three “boyband” buddies) here has been resolved as well. They are now integrated into the production. Overall the musical numbers work well, and the book’s broad jokes all land well.

The magic, of course, is nowhere more evident than that starlit magic carpet ride during “A Whole new World” — and it’s become even more fascinating since the design team has gone on record to state the the illusion is NOT done with wires. I have zero idea how they did it, and I’m pretty tech savvy with these things. The remainder of the show’s illusions are stage-tricks that work well throughout. But oh, that carpet…which now appears in the curtain call as well, in full light, with no visible means of floatation — I love it.

But close on its heals are the two major production numbers in the show: “A Friend like me” is a bone-fide show stopper — it got a standing ovation mid-show…and “Prince Ali” pumps up the costumes and glamour — and by itself should earn Aladdin this year’s Best Costume award at Tony time.

Also sure to win a Tony is featured actor James Monroe Iglehart as Genie. Its an all-around star turn from this man who has to follow in Robin Williams movie shadow. His is a crowd pleasing, but also very talented, performance from beginning to end. The rest of the cast remains intact from its pre-Broadway tryouts in Seattle and Toronto.

Overall, Aladdin is a fun, funny, and entertaining evening of Disney Theatricals magic — and it has found a long long tenure at the New Amsterdam Theatre on 42nd Street. What fun it has been to follow its development along the way. Recommended.

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The mess that is “Oliver!” at Encore (Review) February 14, 2014

Posted by ronannarbor in Community Theater, musical theater, Musicals, Uncategorized.
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Against my better judgement (the larger the cast, the more I stay away from Encore productions), I went to see Oliver! last night, mostly to see my friends in the show.

Here’s what I can say. The leads are all quite good. The secondary leads border on bad (with notable exceptions: and all of them are used either in the Undertaker scene, or the Street Seller sequence). And the production as a whole is terrible. I left the show thinking there is no way I can write a review on this, its that bad. But then I though, I really should write a review on this, to warn people expecting a good production of a show that many people love.

There are some sparks of life: Mahalia Greenway is a superb Nancy, trapped in terrible blocking not of her choosing…Tobin Hissong is a fantastic Fagin…and the set looks great and works functionally for the production (which used a turntable in the original Broadway production and fully realized sets in later stagings).  The two-piece piano/drum combo sounds like a two-piece combo. They are not credited in the program.

Despite a great set, the lighting is dismal and too dark for this musical. Colors are tinged with yellow and orange throughout, making everything look, well, not London-dirty but Dexter-out-of-gels dingy.

The kids in the show (I know, I know, how can a reviewer knock kids?) lack charisma, and there are too many girls in the workhouse boys sequence which makes the entire “Food Glorious Food” sequence sound too thin and too high. Instead of spunky kids of various ages caught between childhood and a life of servitude, you get soprano and high tenor overtones that wash out any life these kids might have in them. They do better later in Fagin’s gang, but by that point the damage has been done.  I wont mention my thoughts on Oliver and Dodger.

Things get better as the mediocre to poor ensemble dissipates and the adult actors take over — and the second act is better than the first, not only because its written better, but because the many ensemble numbers have been finished and gone…This is a production in which the ensemble definitely does not mesh with the more polished professionals, and it is very noticeable.

But my biggest gripe goes to the direction/choreography. What the heck??? There are gaps and holes you can drive a mack-truck through. Songs end and people just stand there. Lines are finished, and people stand on stage frozen for 8 – 10 beats while the music cues catch up. Nobody talks over music cues, they wait until the music sounds its final notes. People look at the door before anyone knocks. Oliver not only has time to escape from the Undertaker, he has time to drink a Redbull tallboy before he goes.  Alisa Mutchler-Bauer has impressive credits in her program bio. That doesn’t match what is on stage at the Encore, much of which feels like its blocked by others — the actors themselves maybe? Take the initial meeting between Oliver and Dodger — could it have been drawn out any longer? Oliver sits toward the front of the stage and Dodger appears at the top of the stairs stage right, aware that he has seen his “mark” down below…he stands there for a moment or two while Oliver finishes putzing with his bag, and then “hides” at far stage left under the stairs…Dodger then primps and preens a bit, fixing his hat, making himself look like a sophisticate, and then begins his long slow walk down the stairs…stopping at the bottom to preen some more…then eventually moving toward center to make his first line —OY!!!!! That should have started two minute earlier. This kind of slop is clearly poor direction. Kids will do whatever you tell them to do.  This pattern repeats over and over throughout the show. Scenes that should be funny don’t garner a single laugh (“I shall scream”). Choreography in “Consider Yourself” is repetitive, basic-church-basement-theatre pattern-filled, and it just looks bad on stage. This is not the actors fault — they are given bad blocking and choreography to work with.

So — I wasn’t going to review this production. You can see why. But you can also vote with your wallets on things like this. Just because it is there doesn’t mean people will come. Clearly word of mouth is out, because my performance was only half full last night, for a show that should be raking in the bucks.

Not recommended.

Oliver! continues at the Encore Musical Theatre Company (whose next show is not a musical) through March 2nd.

A quick note on reviews – or, why I didn’t review your show July 13, 2013

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Just a reminder that I do not review every musical that opens in SE Michigan, but you can be sure that I will review every professional musical tour that comes through and all Broadway musicals in NYC each year.

I do not review community theater shows, or amateur theater production unless I specifically want to see the show. Then I might or might not write a review. In general, these will only end up with a review if the production was stellar. There is no reason to give a bad review to an amateur production, but there is plenty of reason to praise things that are above the norm.

I will never review shows done in inappropriate venues (I don’t care how good your cast might be in that blackbox production of Phantom of the Opera. I will not be seeing it.) I rarely attend these productions, and if I do, it is only to see a friend, or because a close friend is somehow involved in the production.

I never accept free tickets to review shows, and I pay for every production that I want to see. Frankly, there’s a lot I don’t want to see.

 

 

 

Cedar Point Live Shows 2013 (Review) June 18, 2013

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Another summer of live shows is in full swing at Cedar Point, and it continues to offer the best overall live-park show entertainment outside of Walt Disney World’s theme parks. This year’s offerings are no exception.

Summer Daze at the Palace Theater in Frontiertown offers a front-of-the-park quality show at the back-of-the-park. This is the second year in a row for this super entertaining production that mixes in “summer vacation song” type numbers from Katy Perry to Broadway (kudos to whomever picked great songs from Pump Boys and Dinettes and Ragtime). This year’s cast is very talented and works well together. Musicianship, talent, and chemistry are at work here. The guys in particular dance much better than last year. This is a great place to grab lunch while watching the show, and the food options are much improved.

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At the front of the park, the new “On Broadway” mixes-up a lot of Broadway standards in an awards-show format. The cast is strong, and they are given good material to work with here. Its the strongest front-of-park show at the Jack Aldrich Theater in many years. The production makes very few missteps and stars a fresh young cast of nationwide musical theater students in a production that includes songs from old favorites (Hairspray, Les Miz, and Chicago) while liberally sprinkling in lesser known tunes from My Favorite Year, and lesser songs from Jukebox musicals including Million Dollar Quartet and Jersey Boys (though that segment is a bit generic). The “You Can’t Stop the Beat” Hairspray finale is particularly well done. A costume parade is terrific here with instantly recognizable costumes from Broadway musicals (though the My Fair Lady costume represents the movie, not the stage version). Be sure to stop off and end your day with this production as it runs in the late afternoon early evening only.

There’s a fantastic cast in the Frontier Trail’s Red Garter Saloon at “Absolute Country” — its a shame you can’t make out a single word of what they are singing in the highly over-amplified poorly sound-designed ear splitting production. The kids are terrific — and they work very hard to shout their songs out over the high-volume semi-tracked (with live accompaniment) production. For country lovers, you will probably recognize most of these honky-tonk style pop country standards, but if you didn’t already know them, you wouldn’t understand a word of what you are hearing in this mic-mush production. This is also a return show, and it suffered the same mic-problems last season. While I would like to blame it on the accoustics in the theater I can’t — in the old days, performers did their show here WITHOUT any mics, and they were able to be heard by all. The problem here is the sound design.

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All Wheels Extreme at the Aquatic Stadium offers its finest show to date. Gone are the old pander-to-the-guys-with-cheerleading-bimbos production values, and instead you now get a 25 minutes of purely stunt-driven high energy production with bikes, scooters, gymnastics, roller skates and a few surprises thrown in. All performed to high-energy summer hip hop and rock tunes, its a fun (and remarkably athletic) production that you shouldn’t miss. But kids, don’t try these stunts at home. Regular watchers of America’s Got Talent will recognize some of the folks in this group from last summer’s tv show. Note that this production is outdoors and is weather dependent. Also, do not sit along the “bird bombardment zone” (the second and third row around the seating area) where even after all these years CP hasn’t figured out how to eliminate the seagull droppings as they perch on the roof around the rim of the theater.

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Also returning for another season at the Goodtime Theater is “Happiness Is…Snoopy” ice-skating show. This is the Point’s biggest indoor production with multiple set, costume, and lighting effects. Family friendly to a fault, the show is much improved over last summer’s offering, and the skating stronger overall. Half of the cast returns from last season, while a few newcomers help make things feel fresh and different. Don’t bypass this production, as much as they go out of their way to make it seem like its another Peanuts-pandering kids show…it is not. You’ll be impressed by the skating, and dazzled by the excellent stage design for this full-out ice show.

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Luminosity (version 2.0 this year) returns to the Iron Dragon midway, and its a better show than last year. The song selection is better, and the singers stronger. The lighting is updated and the effects look great, and its a great way to end your day at the Point (the show starts at 9:30 and runs about 40 minutes, followed by dancing on the midway to a live DJ that rises from the stage). More people hung out to dance after the show this year, and the better placement (and expansion) of the bar-area behind the light booth certainly helps with the late night energy. You’ll recognize some of the folks you saw in other shows during the day as well. This is a much-needed improvement over the old laser lighting show, and it really sends you out of the park (or back to the resorts) in a great mood. Note that this production is dependent on the weather.

There are several other smaller productions geared toward the kiddees (all themed to Snoopy and the Peanuts gang) throughout the day. The peanuts characters make frequent appearances in Camp Snoopy, and they are more than amenable to taking photos with adults as well. Overall, this is a very strong season of live entertainment at Cedar Point — be sure to take some time out of your coaster-riding day to sit down and enjoy some of the great performers.

Kinky Boots on Broadway is abso-friggin-fantabulous (review) March 23, 2013

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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.

Matilda the musical (review) NYC — something naughty this way comes March 23, 2013

Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Musicals, Entertainment, musical theater, Musicals, Theatre, Uncategorized.
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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.

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.

Spooky (Hilarious) Mormon Hell Dream…The Book of Mormon (Detroit) tour review March 13, 2013

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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: https://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, 2013

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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, 2012

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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”

Castle: (snickers)

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, 2012

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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.