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Hodgepodge from UM, Tigers, Jackson, etc. October 17, 2011

Posted by ronannarbor in Broadway Tour, Entertainment, musical theater.
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Yeah, lots going on, and no particular single topic to write on….

Jackson Michigan saw a pretty dandy production of [title of show] this past few weekends. Still waiting for this to have a decent production in the Ann Arbor area now that it’s available royalty-wise. Jackson’s The Fourth Wall presented a critically acclaimed production that hopefully some of you got to see. This is a super show that somehow has just not caught on in the local theater circuit.

University of Michigan musical theater program put on a dandy production of The Full Monty musical which continues this coming weekend. I haven’t reviewed it, not because its undeserving, but because its just one of those shows that doesn’t work as well with a cast of hunky 19 year old boys in the leads, who should be in their 30’s and early 40’s. Not to say that this isn’t a great production — the show looks great, sounds great, and the cast is magnificent (as they should be, given that they are in a professional musical theater training program). But it just didn’t work for me. When Dave complains of being fat and he looks like he weighs about 160 pounds, the realism seeps right out. Mark Esposito’s choreography, however, is something to behold. It’s a great show. Go see it. But unlike the Broadway production, don’t expect to be emotionally moved by it.

The Detroit Tigers had an awesome run of their own, losing in the 6th game of the ALCS to the Texas Rangers. They went much further into the post season than anyone would have thought even a month ago, and they knocked the Yankees out of contention for this year’s title, so they are the darlings of the entire nation right now. Better luck next year, guys, what an awesome run you gave us this year!

UM, as has become usual, folded under MSU’s much better defense; and Denard Robinson just disappeared in a game where he should have been front and center. All for the best, as attention can now be paid to the UM Hockey Team, who are off to a great start for the season, and who have always been nearer and dearer to my heart than the football team will ever be. Go Blue!

Coming up within the next few months?….Ain’t Misbehavin’ at Performance Network, My Fair Lady (tour) at the Fox, Les Miserables (Stranahan, Toledo, tour), Wicked (Detroit Opera House, tour), battling White Christmas’s (tour at the Fox, community theater productions throughout SE Michigan and Ohio – from the Croswell Opera House to Howell), A Christmas Story, the musical at the Fisher (tour), and yet another revision of It’s A Wonderful Life at Encore in Dexter. Busy musical theater season coming up. Look for reviews as we go.

UM’s “Gibson Fleck” shows promise, fine score (review) November 19, 2010

Posted by ronannarbor in Ann Arbor, Entertainment, musical theater, Theatre.
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It’s hard to review a workshop production of a show. Such is the case at the University of Michigan, where the musical theater program is presenting GIBSON FLECK this weekend.

There are parts of this new musical that work well. There are others that don’t. But what works well works very well –the opposite is also true of the things that don’t work well. I won’t go into reviewing the show itself in this blog review, since it is a work in progress. Suffice it to say that the show involves a young man searching for his roots (and a sense of “home” as the songs often reflect) after being moved from “family” to “family” while growing up due to a series of coincidences.

Make no mistake, this is a full-fledged UM production, so the clever set (by Vince Mountain); the lighting, costumes, orchestra, and large cast are all super. The production makes terrific use of the Arthur Miller Theater on North Campus. It’s great to see a student-written production get this type of treatment. The direction by Linda Goodrich moves the production briskly along and makes for an entertaining evening.

There is some lovely work in the score by A.J. Holmes and Carlos Valdes, especially when things slow down and become more melodic. The book by Ali Gordon never finds its voice. It’s not worth delving into this further here, because this is clearly a work in progress, and as future workshops and rewrites occur, it is sure to find a stronger center. As it stands, its a bit difficult to discern which characters one is meant to care about; and I didn’t want to care about all of them.

My own final thoughts on the way home: I loved seeing a new musical that clearly has some excellent young talent behind it; and wish nothing but good things for this team down the road. My take: I’d love to see a bit more about Gibson, and a bit less about some of the other people in his life. Congrats to the team involved. The lucky few with tickets will enjoy this new show, even if the road to the finish is a bit bumpy at this point.