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Cedar Point 2010 – Live Shows (Review) — updated May 31, 2010

Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment, musical theater, Theatre.
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All of Cedar Point’s shows are now up and running for the 2010 season.

I’ll start with the newest of them, “Rock Band Live” at the front of the park. It’s awful. I can’t tell you what a mess this show is. Based on the computer game, it mixes pre-auditioned audience participation with a gag-me “scripted show” and is a direct ripoff of “the American Idol Experience” at Disney Hollywood studios without the budget, glitz, interest, or talent. The microphones go on and off, emit static, and sometimes fizzle right out. The lighting and costuming are bizarre to say the least — at times, it looks like the slaughter-of-the-pig sequence from Carrie, the Musical. The technical work is sloppy throughout. The performances are shaky, ranging from mediocre to completely inadequate.

I’m not even going to waste more time on that show — it is dreadful — stay away. It is sure to be a one-season temporary production in the theater that normally houses Broadway-style reviews.

Everybody Love’s Snoopy is the big-budget ice skating show in the Goodtime Theater. It’s much better than last season’s production, and the skating is quite good. The entire thing is well choreographed and the sets and costumes look terrific (this is an import from Cedar Fair’s Knotts Berry Farm from last season). Brother and sister skating team Lara and Neill Shelton (competitive pairs skaters) do a terrific job with their featured segments — they are energetic, young, and attractive. There are no beer-bellied skaters this year (unlike last season). The show looks something like this:

Lara and Neill Shelton “boogy” to some Buble:

And here, they perform more serious stuff (their death spiral):

By the way — the Goodtime Theatre (Everybody Loves Snoopy) used to be the old IMAX theater at CP — as a result, it was designed to maximize sound from the front of the house to the back, and to deaden audience sound. That results in a very hollow live-feedback sound. You literally can not hear the people around you applauding, laughing, or responding. As a result, the sound is very one-directional. They make a big deal every year of urging you to applaud and respond when you like the skating elements. Please do so. The cast will enjoy hearing your response, and your neighbors will feel less like they are the only ones in the packed theater.

Let’s continue with the most highly attended but least interesting show of the bunch: ALL WHEELS EXTREME; which really is only bikes, in-line skates, scooters (the artist fell twice), gymnasts (of the backflip and not much else variety) and a couple cheerleaders.

The show is what it is, and except for music, is virtually identical to last summer’s show. The stunts are good. The cast is attractive. The effort and energy that goes into this show are phenomenal. But it’s all a hollow thing. You can see more than this on tv these days, any given afternoon. But they amp the volume up, keep the crowd cheering, and its a pleasant way to spend 25 minutes with a great view (of both the performers and the blue lake beyond). Here, one of the performers does a (wait-for-it…) backflip:

Here’s another shot: you get the idea —

GRAND OLE COUNTRY at The Palace Saloon is a tremendous improvement over the sing-along that has been there the past few seasons. The six-person cast performs a variety of country and gospel songs from Patsy Cline to current favorites. It all moves along briskly in a clumsily-choreographed community-theatre caliber show. The performers have great voices. The girls are particularly strong. The guys have nice voices but stumble through their dance moves. The volume of the canned music is cranked up far too loudly for the performers, and some of them can’t be heard over the piped-in music. This is the same problem that plagued last-years show at the Red Garter Saloon. One of the men (with a deep baritone voice) fares better than the others; another of whom has many solos and basically can’t be heard at all. The costuming is fine, and the lighting good. My suggestion would be to crank down the volume, let the kids perform, and cut all that fussy choreography. Here they perform some of the clumsy choreography:

On the other hand, the diamond of the summer so far is over at the Red Garter Saloon. TROPICAL BEAT – ISLAND HEAT is an all-around terrific show; the best in the park this summer. The live band is back and they look and sound terrific backing up a three-member cast.  The guitar player sings along, and it’s all great fun. The music here is crowd-pleasing; the cast is energetic and clearly having fun; and the show is well-staged, avoiding needless movement, briskly working its way through a set of beach-party infused tunes that range from “Get On Your Feet”…to “Turn the Beat Around”. Terrific fun. Here’s a few shots of the cast in action:

As with all shows at CP, you need to get there at least a half hour before the show. The Red Garter Saloon in particular has a seating problem with not enough chairs to go around. If it’s full, get a soda and stand at the bar. This show is worth standing through.  If you only have time for one show – skip the more obvious All Wheels stunt unspectacular, and head directly to the Red Garter Saloon at the front end of the Frontier Trail. You’ll have a great time, and see the most professionally produced show at CP in quite some time. If you have time for two, pick up Everybody Loves Snoopy and enjoy the skating, air conditioning, and attractive cast.

Summary – 2010

Best Show: Tropical Beat – Island Heat

Best cast: (tie) Everybody Loves Snoopy — Tropical Beat – Island Heat

Most Energetic cast: All Wheel’s Extreme

Best Choreoraphy: Everybody Loves Snoopy

Best Direction: Tropical Beat – Island Heat

Best Lighting: Everybody Loves Snoopy

Best Sound Design: Everybody Loves Snoopy

Best Set Design: Everybody Loves Snoopy

Best Costumes: Everybody Loves Snoopy

Best Featured performers: Lara and Neill Shelton (Everybody Loves Snoopy)

Best musical selections: Tropical Beat – Island Heat

Cedar Point 2009 – End of Summer report August 24, 2009

Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment.
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With the summer winding down, Cedar Point is entering what is considered “Dead Week” – the smallest crowds of the summer this week and next week as students return to school….Michigan folks might be surprised to learn that Ohio Schools have already gone back — we have the new law that schools can’t start until Labor Day, which makes for a frighteningly long summer this year for parents.

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I’ve had three great weekend stays at Cedar Point this year between the Hotel Breakers and the Lighthouse Point Cabins…and have used my season pass 9 times so far this year with two more planned trips before the season is over.

In short — two of the big attraction shows have already closed for the summer (Signed, Sealed, Delivered and Extreme Wheels Stunt Show), and the remainder are scheduled to close this coming weekend. That will put Cedar Point solidly into fall Hallow-weekends mode, with the Halloween funhouses opening in mid-September and the Halloween parade and other annual attractions ready to go.

The Twilight Experience has proven to be a huge hit, with throngs passing through each night; and their set-up time got down to less than 10 minutes (another plus, given the initial half-hour setup at the beginning of the season).

Rumors abound for next year’s new attraction – t0 be announced on or around Labor Day, but this warning in advance: Ride the Paddlewheel Excursion while you still can, enjoy the awful jokes as you float around the lagoon with its half-broken animatronic displays. Cedar Point has fired it’s animatronic maintenance division which means great changes are in store for this attraction next season, even without an announcement at this point. Another heads up, if you like soakers, better get your final rides in on Snake River Falls as well.

The Cedar Point forums are abuzz with rumors of next years attractions and Cedar Point apparently likes it that way, feeding the rabid 15-year olds with twitter and facebook “clues”…it’s all nauseating. One certainly: land has been cleared on Millenium Island for an attraction said to span from the “mainland” across the lagoon and onto the western side of the island. Rumors range from new log flume to minor family coaster. My money is on the log flume, since CP announced when they tore out White Water Landing to build Maverick that they would be replacing it with a new water attraction down the road. CP is desperately in need of family attractions right now, and that would fit the bill. Frankly, I totally don’t care what new attractions they put in next year, but they are in vital need of updating their bathrooms and providing enough cleaning staff to make them less disgusting.

Overall, the coasters ran for the most part. No attraction was closed for more than a day or two at the most (Millenium Force being the ride with the worst track record this season, especially compared to Top Thrill Dragster which seems to run on it’s own will most of the time, but which seemed to run most of the summer this year). Chaos and Demon Drop, both for sale for years now, are still open and running as well. Disaster Transport looks to be on its final legs as well. I don’t give that one more than another season or two of operation, if that long. Mean Streak is also heading for the scrap pile. Ride it now if you want to experience a backpain-migraine inducing-teeth-rattling ride on one of the worst wooden coasters ever built, and one of only a handful remaining of the designer’s coasters in the country. No amount of repair can fix that one.

Cedar Point remains a fantastic local vacation spot — but with the shows now closing for the year and Halloweekends spook houses ready to open, it will only be a few more short day trips for myself. I leave that to the teens. But a few more rides on Millenium Force and I’ll call it a season. A few shots from this past weekend:

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