Understudy Madness

Michelle and I have an admitted weakness for understudies. We love the people who normally play the role, but we also love to see an understudy give their take on the performance, with their own unique interpretation of the material and the different nuances they give the character. Over the past couple of weeks, we were fortunate enough to see two understudies in roles that we have been trying to see for months (literally).

The first portion of our understudy extravaganza was finally seeing Jessica Phillips go on for Alice Ripley as Diana Goodman in Next to Normal. This has been a life goal of ours ever since... I would say about the fourth time we saw the show? That sounds about right. It's not that we didn't like Alice Ripley or were tired of her performance - nothing could be further from the truth - but we had heard wonderful things about Ms. Phillips and were eager to see her in the role. She was, in a word, phenomenal. Her voice, in contrast to Ms. Ripley's, has more purity and clarity of tone. Ms. Phillips also plays Diana less over-the-top and more vacillating between reality and the fantasy of her illness. While Ms. Ripley certainly originated and created a strong, compelling character, she does tend to play Diana "crazier" than Ms. Phillips does. Watching Ms. Ripley, I get the sense that it is the illness that controls Diana, but when I saw Ms. Phillips, I saw more of Diana's struggle to control and conquer her illness.

There were moments when Ms. Phillips would allow Diana to begin to lose control but would then visibly rein herself in and regain control. For instance, when Diana is making sandwiches on the floor during the opening number of the show and says "I think the house is spinning," Ms. Phillips played Diana as having a greater awareness of her loss of control and trying to pretend that everything was fine. The ups and downs of her struggle were more visible, and that translated to her rendition of "I Miss the Mountains" being the strongest I have ever heard. Vocally, it was amazing - Ms. Phillips added in some riffs that were just incredible - and the pure tone of her voice was poignant and beautiful. I was almost moved to tears. Ms. Phillips also played Diana more resigned and upset with her situation, versus the anger that often pervades Ms. Ripley's performances. Ms. Phillips' "You Don't Know" was filled with resignation and sadness, and her "Why Stay? / A Promise" and the scene preceding it was the emotional high point of the show for her. It was incredibly powerful to see her struggle so with her illness and the reality that Gabe just wasn't real.Lastly, and perhaps most heartbreaking on a personal level, was the way Ms. Phillips portrayed Diana's relationship with Diana. During "Make Up Your Mind / Catch Me I'm Falling," Diana says, "We had Natalie to... and I know she knows..." In the past, when I had seen the show, Ms. Ripley always seemed to say that line flippantly, with a matter-of-fact tone to her voice. With Ms. Phillips, it was a realization and admittance that she had completely ignored her daughter for years and that she was born out of a need to replace the son Diana herself had lost. Ms. Phillips' delivery of this line simply killed me. I loved it, as I loved her entire performance. Her Diana was not better or worse than Ms. Ripley's; it was merely a different take on the character, one that truly embodied the notion of keeping the plates all spinning, with a smile so white and winning all the way.

The second part of our understudy adventures occurred on a cloudy Wednesday afternoon, when we had the incredible opportunity to see Jay Armstrong-Johnson go on as Claude in Hair. This, too, was a life goal of ours, and so when Twitter informed us he would be going on for both shows that day, we jumped in the car and headed for the city. We were able to secure discounted tickets, and then were able to move up to the front of the balcony due to empty seats. Seeing Mr. Johnson go on was, to put it mildly, a treat. Having seen him before as a Tribe member and watching his videos repeatedly on YouTube, Michelle and I were already in love with his voice (and his rad dance moves - if you haven't, YouTube "The Ballad of Sarah Berry" and just watch the boy break it down). His performance was nothing short of spectacular. His voice, specifically his belt, is insane, and he added some great riffs in "I've Got Life," and his "Where Do I Go?" was fantastic as well. I think the aspect of Mr. Johnson's performance that I enjoyed the most was the youthfulness he brought to the role. Gavin Creel is incredible as Claude, but sometimes I have trouble distinguishing him as an actor from him as an activist. His activism and leadership outside of the theater give him a confidence (at least in my eyes) that is almost contrary to the character of Claude, who really just wants to be, without any pressures or obligations. To me, Mr. Johnson portrayed Claude's uncertainty about his own future and survival so subtly; he wasn't outwardly fearful, but he also didn't seem to have the same peace and acceptance of his future either. He also has an incredible stage presence, no matter what he's doing. Even if he was not the focal point of the scene or song, I still found my eyes being drawn to him as he danced or interacted with other Tribe members. I was so impressed with his performance and so grateful that I got to see him go on.

Don't wanna be an American Idiot (but it sure looks like fun!)

A chilly (okay, freezing cold) March afternoon found yours truly in the balcony of the St. James for the fourth preview of American Idiot, the self-proclaimed "exhilarating story of a new generation of young Americans as they struggle to find meaning in a post-9/11 world, borne along by Green Day's electrifying score." I've been keeping tabs on the show since its run at California's Berkeley Repertory Theatre, and can remember the Christmas I received Green Day's "American Idiot" album, so I was somewhat familiar with the music and its message going into the show. Since the show's New York premiere on Wednesday night, however, I had avoided all reviews, photographs, and footage from the final sound check like the plague, wanting to be completely surprised by the theatrical version of the album.

Walking down the many flights of stairs after the 90-minute, intermission-less show, my initial thoughts pretty much consisted of, "WOW." The intensity of the show is like nothing I've ever seen; right from the title song, which opens the show, the music is loud, rockin', and in-your-face. The visuals of the show are stunning; Kevin Adams uses strobe lights and bright, bold colors to illuminate the stage and audience. Perhaps my favorite scene visually was "Boulevard of Broken Dreams," when the character of Johnny is positioned at the center of the stage and surrounded with the swirling lights of city buildings. The television sets, which are plastered along the back wall of the set, are used effectively but subtly; I only noticed them when I was supposed to, and didn't find them distracting in the least, as I have with electronic projections in past shows I've seen.

The choreography, by newcomer-to-Broadway Steven Hoggett, is physically rooted in the characters' emotions. I enjoyed watching the ensemble members doing their own individual actions at various locations across the stage, and then seeing them all come together in a choreographed moment for the entire group. The movements of the uniformed soldiers during the end of "Give Me Novocaine" were incredibly moving, and the play between some of the ensemble members in suits and some in street clothes during "Homecoming," as well as the aerial dance between Tunny and the Extraordinary Girl in "Extraordinary Girl," also stood out to me.

Tom Kitt should be extremely proud of his orchestrations. He has taken an album of songs that feature two or three vocalists at the most, and translated them perfectly for an entire ensemble. The transitions that connect several of the songs are also absolutely gorgeous, and don't let the momentum of the show slow down unless it is called for. We spotted Mr. Kitt taking his seat in the side balcony just before the curtain rose, taking notes throughout the show, which was quite thrilling; we were determined to approach him at the stagedoor to express our admiration of his work, both in American Idiot and Next to Normal, but couldn't find him after the show.

The music itself, and the actors who perform it, are by far the strength of the show, especially since dialogue is minimal. It's been nearly three years since I watched John Gallagher, Jr. win his Tony Award for Spring Awakening, and I admire him as an actor and musician almost beyond anyone else, so it was a privilege to finally see him perform. Although I found myself disliking his character (ironically, also named Johnny) at the beginning of the show, Mr. Gallagher gives an incredible performance, and some of the best moments of the show feature just him and his guitar under a single spotlight. Stark Sands as Tunny was also fantastic. In my opinion, his character has the biggest arc to work with, and he did a fantastic job with the material. His voice was a standout to me as well. Michael Esper as Will didn't have a lot to do, although he was onstage for a large portion of the show, and he really shone with his vulnerability in "Give Me Novocaine."

I was expecting both Tony Vincent and Rebecca Naomi Jones' roles to be larger (although the 30-something Tony fan girl sitting next to me didn't seem to mind...), but they each blew the roof off the theater every time they were onstage. Mr. Vincent's St. Jimmy is electric and absolutely terrifying as Johnny's tormentor, with a killer rock voice to boot. Ms. Jones carries the same power she displayed in Passing Strange, and her dominating voice knocked me over during "21 Guns" (which, in the context of the show, had an entirely different significance that I had imagined) and "Letterbomb."

The ensemble is absolutely chock-full of talent. Spring Awakening alums Brian Charles Johnson and Gerard Canonico each get their individual moments in the spotlight (Gerard has the honor of kicking off the entire show with his solo in "American Idiot"). After missing Theo Stockman by one day in Hair, I finally understand everyone's love for his fierceness; he completely owns his sections in "Holiday" and "Too Much Too Soon," and has a stage presence that is hard to look away from. Other standouts were Mary Faber as Heather, Christina Sojous as the Extraordinary Girl (who begins the show hanging UPSIDE DOWN from the CEILING), and the red-headed Alysha Umphress in the ensemble. It will be very interesting to see how the cast as a whole manages to maintain both their voices and their energy levels through the run of the show, simply because of its intensity.

I'm glad I took the time to reflect on the show before reviewing it, because my initial reaction left me a little bit underwhelmed. As I look back a mere 24 hours later, I realize that I was moved by the show, but in a different way than I had been expecting. I still think that there are some weaknesses in the show, though. The plot is relatively simple to follow, but I felt that it was somewhat underdeveloped, and that the characters themselves were as well. The "lack of book" seems to be a common discussion across various message boards, and while I don't think that adding additional dialogue to the show would necessarily flesh out the characters more without taking away from the flow of the show, I did find two issues that may have affected my emotional connection with the characters until almost halfway through the show:

1. When Green Day's album was released in 2004, I received a copy for Christmas, and have vivid memories of listening to it on repeat on the drive to my grandparents' house. Despite my familiarity, however, I had difficulty understanding the lyrics sung at times. Because of the lack of dialogue, which is mostly delivered by Johnny in the form of a journal-style monologue, nearly the entirety of character development is contained in the lyrics of the songs, so it's crucial to understand every word. Maybe it was my own difficulty in listening to the words as descriptions and not simply as punk-rock music that I've heard on the radio a thousand times, but I found it hard to care about the characters' plights until halfway through the show, with the exception of Tunny and Whatsername. Two of my friends who attended the show with me also commented on the need for the sound mixing within the theater to be perfected, which is surely a challenge due to the volume that the rock score demands.

2. As far as balconies go, the St. James's is nothing to complain about, especially in comparison to huge houses like the Palace Theater, or the Benedum Center in Pittsburgh. Like most of the Broadway theaters that I've been in, the building is designed more vertically than horizontally, so while my seat was quite high above the stage, I wasn't extremely far back from it. But the downside of all balconies is that viewers are rarely close enough to see facial expressions and the more intimate details of an actor's performance.

So, I am very eager to return to American Idiot, either toward the end of its previews or after the show officially opens on April 20. But first, I'm going to familiarize myself more with the lyrics, and I'm going to plan on lottoing for a seat in the first two rows of the theater. I'm always appreciative of a show that challenges me, and American Idiot definitely has, both in its political statements and its demands on the audience to look to a more interpretive style of characterization, and American Idiot definitely has a dynamic that is rocking and shocking Broadway.

Weekly roundup

Since it's the beginning of a very busy week in College Land, I thought a roundup of recent headlines, both fantastic and odd, would be apropos.

~ Today marked legend Stephen Sondheim's 80th birthday. (Andrew Lloyd Weber also turned 62. [Insert awful joke here.]) Not only was a huge gala concert was held in his honor last Monday, but BroadwayWorld graced their title bar with this lovely graphic.

If that wasn't enough of a birthday gift, news broke this evening that the Henry Miller Theater will be renamed in his honor. To be honest, I had to rely on Google for information about Henry Miller, and I think that the composer and/or lyricist of classics such as "West Side Story," "Gypsy," "Company," "Sunday in the Park with George," and a personal favorite, "Into The Woods," is more than deserving of a theater in his name.

~ The American Idiot marquee has gone up in its entirety at the St. James!

(via lane1008 on Twitter)

After walking by the theater on Friday and noting the still-blank doors, seeing the completed facade is quite thrilling. Previews open on Wednesday, but we're going to try and avoid all spoilers until Saturday, after which we will be able to give a firsthand account!

~ According to BroadwayWorld, the search is on for a new Mary Jane Watson in the apparently-still-alive "Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark." Evan Rachel Wood, who was originally attached to the project, seems to have made a wise decision when she dropped out due to "scheduling conflicts," which I suspect may be due to the lack of any schedule at all.

~ Broadway's friend across the Atlantic Sea (see what I did there?) on the West End celebrated a fine year of theater last night at the 2010 Olivier Awards. "Spring Awakening" took home four awards, including Best New Musical, Best Actor in a Musical (Aneurin Barnard as Melchior), and Best Supporting Performance in a Musical (Iwan Rheon as Moritz, mirroring his American counterpart, John Gallagher Jr., who took home a Tony for the same role). Other notable category winners awarded included Tennessee Williams' "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" for Best Revival; Katori Hall's "The Mountaintop" for Best Play; Rachel Weisz as Best Actress in "A Streetcar Named Desire;" and Mark Rylance as Best Actor in "Jerusalem."

~ Speaking of London-town, the original revival cast of Broadway's "Hair" has arrived in the UK for their six-month stay at the Gielgud Theatre! As the replacement cast in New York finds their feet, it will be exciting to track both productions over their respective runs. Star Gavin Creel graced his Twitter followers with a lovely video yesterday morning, documenting the cast's excitement prior to boarding the plane to England.

~ And finally, it has been (unofficially?) announced, via Facebook, that Jennifer Damiano will be a guest star at Matt Doyle's Joe's Pub engagement on April 21! We'll admit that we're a TAD bit excited for this news, and will probably spend excessive amounts of time hypothesizing potential songs for the pair to sing. (Ryan Scott Oliver's "Hemming and Hawing," anyone?)

This past Friday's trip to the city, to see Jessica Phillips as Diana in "Next to Normal," was an epic success which also included seeing Michael Berry as Dan. Look for a review soon!

Spotted: One Confused BroadwayWorld Reader

A few mornings ago, I woke up and went through my usual routine of checking each of the social networking sites I belong to. Although I was still groggy from staying up a bit later than I should have the night before, my virtual arrival at BroadwayWorld woke me up in an instant as this blaring headline greeted me on the homepage:

Why hello there, BroadwayWorld. Might I introduce myself? My name is BroadwayGirlNYC.

I blinked a few times, imagining that my still-sleepy eyes were deceiving me. But as I read BroadwayGirlNYC's first column, complete with a flashy banner at the top of the page, I quickly realized that some random person that I happen to follow on Twitter, along with 3,000 other Tweeters, had evolved to an entirely new level.

Although I didn't realize this until recently, BroadwayGirlNYC already has her own blog. Okay, so do I. I discovered her through her Twitter account, where she spreads information about timely happenings on the Broadway scene. Okay, so do I. And her mysterious identity only adds to the intrigue.

I am not bothered by most of what BroadwayGirlNYC, or other similar persons in the media, do. With so many different outlets of information, it's actually kind of nice to have a source of somewhat consolidated information. A recent perusal of her latest tweets include re-tweeted stories about a production of "West Side Story" in Malaysia; a discount code from Broadway Impact for "Yank: The Musical;" and a shout-out to Kate Baldwin and Cheyanne Jackson for their great work on the original cast recording of "Finian's Rainbow." She also converses with numerous Tweeters, and creates a dialogue around the theater scene. What is there to possibly complain about?

What bothers me about the newest addition to BroadwayWorld's website is a question of legitimacy. By giving *mysterious Tweeter* a weekly column on a website that connects nearly everyone in the theater industry, BroadwayWorld has challenged my conception of its content. I have a blog, and a twitter; I am active on a Broadway-based message board, and I read BroadwayWorld daily. Do I also get an official column hosted by what is arguably the top news site for theater people? Call me jealous, or bitter, but I just don't know if merely participating in the online conversation that connects the Broadway community serves as qualification for an official platform.

The appeal of BroadwayGirlNYC, of course, is that any one of us could be in her shoes. Another outlet we know as BroadwaySpotted capitalizes on the spur-of-the-moment excitement of catching an actor outside of the theater and in their natural environment. This hobby can run the spectrum from sharing information (Re-tweeting a very excited Mandy Gonzalez about beginning her run at "Wicked" in a week) to semi-stalking (Laura Benanti walking down 8th Avenue at 49th Street). It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that yes, many Broadway actors spend much of their time in the Theater District, and yes, they frequent the Starbucks, streets, and subway stops in that area.

Contrarily, I can't say that I have never submitted a "spotting" to BroadwaySpotted. As someone who does not (yet) live in New York, I will admit that it is somewhat exciting to see one of my favorite Broadway personality in the theater, and then see them walking down the street later that evening. (Like that time Hillary and I saw Michael Greif on the sidewalk outside of Joe's Pub...yeah, that was pretty cool.) It's the typical movie star effigy that has us in awe of actors and celebrities, and Broadway actors are much more accessible than most film stars. However, don't Broadway actors deserve their privacy, just like everyone else?

The last paragraph of BroadwayGirlNYC's introductory column reads as follows:

Over the last twelve months I've realized that I exist in a tiny, unique slice of the world where stars and mortals intermingle. One night I'll cheer on a woman who is larger than life, lit up and belting with a superhuman voice - and the next morning I'll see her on the subway chatting with her friends, as if she was just like me. This is not Hollywood, y'all; this is Broadway. It's magical. And there is nowhere in the world I'd rather be.

I'll be the first to say that every word of that appeals to me. It sounds almost like something that I could have written. However, the legitimacy of a hidden identity leaves me questioning my consumption of such sources of information. Maybe I'm taking this too seriously, but it just seems odd to me that a no-name person can navigate the media in such a way as to create an entirely new format of the celebrity paparazzi, and thus become a celebrity herself.

How do you say "bad idea" in French?

Okay, so here's the thing: I've never been a huge fan of Phantom of the Opera. (Insert scandalized gasp here). Sure, I think it's a great musical, and it has fantastic costumes and the score is really intense and beautiful, but it's not one of my favorite shows or anything. In fact, I've never really known what to make of it, what I'm supposed to think about it and its characters. Let's recap, shall we?

Unfortunately disfigured man sees girl. Unfortunately disfigured man becomes creepily obsessed with girl and decides to teach her to sing really awesomely so that they can have the vocal equivalent of eye sex. Girl gets a chance to star in a show after unfortunately disfigured man sabotages the original lead. Girl's childhood sweetheart hears girl sing and sees her and falls in love with her. Girl falls in love with childhood sweetheart. Unfortunately disfigured man, who girl thinks is an angel sent by her dead father to watch over her and help her sing really well, goes a little apeshit. Unfortunately disfigured man proceeds to hypnotize and kidnap girl to try and make her fall in love with him, and when that fails, unfortunately disfigured man declares war and proceeds to kill people and wreak general havoc on the opera house where he lives. Girl says she hates unfortunately disfigured man, but then musters up a little sympathy for said man and kisses him in an attempt to save her childhood love. Unfortunately disfigured man feels bad and lets girl and her childhood love go before breaking a lot of mirrors and disappearing.

All things considered, the Phantom seems like a kind of awful person, no? He's manipulative, creepy, a kidnapper, a murderer, has some rage issues, and just generally not a nice person. Yes he's misunderstood and shunned by society due to his physical deformities, but he's no tragic romantic hero in my mind. Imagine my surprise and confusion, then, when I find out I'm expected to believe that the Phantom isn't such a bad person after all, and that his love for Christine is so beautiful and wonderful (and not so unrequited after all) that it deserves a sequel to arguably one of the most popular musicals of all time, aptly (and perhaps heavy-handedly) entitled Love Never Dies. When I first heard the news that Andrew Lloyd Webber was writing a sequel to his most successful work, my immediate reaction was simply "What the hell?!" followed very quickly by "I thought 'Phantom' made him so rich he would never sink to this level" and ended with "holy shit, this is going to be a damn hot mess of a show." However, I tried to convince myself that ALW wouldn't have announced a sequel unless he had a vision, and a good one at that. It'll be okay, I reassured myself. This won't turn into the huge clusterfuck I'm envisioning in my mind.

Friends, it appears my reservations were well-founded.

Granted, I have not yet seen Love Never Dies, nor have I listened to any of the score beyond the 30 second previews offered on iTunes. My opinion of this show is based solely on the opinions of other people whose columns and blogs I've read, the Wikipedia-ing I've done, and the press releases I've perused and the details I've gleamed from them. It may be that Love Never Dies is actually a decent show that is getting a bad rap from some people whose opinions on theater seem to matter to the general public. To be sure, some news outlets have given it fairly positive reviews. For the most part, however, the general consensus seems to be: What in the name of all that's good and holy were they thinking? Who thought this was a good idea, and what substances were they taking when they thought of it?

I suppose that what really blows my mind about Love Never Dies is that people (I'm talking about you, ALW) thought that the "love story" of Phantom of the Opera is between the Phantom and Christine, not just a one-sided creepy obsession on the Phantom's part, and even more so that it merited a sequel. I just don't get it. It's a story of unrequited love, to be sure, but it's pretty much the most unhealthy, most vindictive, most toxic unrequited love imaginable. The Phantom kills people because he's angry that Christine doesn't love him the way he loves her. In fact, in all my experiences with the show, I don't believe Christine loves him at all in a romantic sense. She's been manipulated and seduced by his singing, yes, but there's no indication that she actually love loves the Phantom, especially compared to the emotion and love she shows towards Raoul ("All I Ask of You" is the most romantic number in that show, and it's between Christine and Raoul, not the Phantom). In fact, the Phantom tries to kill Raoul, the man she does love, and attempts to coerce Christine into living her life with him. Not to mention, he has a freaking life-size mannequin of her (I shudder to think at what he does with it when he's alone). To me, that seems far more Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction than, say, Ryan Gosling in The Notebook.

I guess what I'm really trying to say is that, at it's core, Phantom of the Opera is not a good love story: it's an unhealthy, manipulative relationship that borders on abusive. I just feel like I have a radically different idea of what the show is about than Andrew Lloyd Webber. Where he sees an epic love story, I see something creepy and disturbing. And what's more is that at the end of Phantom, the story is pretty much wrapped up. Christine and Raoul are in love and plan to be married, and the Phantom disappeared into the darkness to do whatever. End of story. No need for a sequel. No need to throw certain characters under the bus (and based on what I've read on Wikipedia - which I won't share so as to ruin the show for anyone who doesn't know and doesn't want to find out - said throwing happens in a pretty major way) for the sake of propagating a "romance" that really isn't all that romantic (although Love Never Dies attempts to show otherwise). And most importantly, no need to tarnish the legacy of the longest-running musical in Broadway history with a crappy sequel.

To be fair, if ALW was to write a sequel to one of his musicals, Phantom of the Opera is really the only choice. Cats had no real plot to speak of, and it was so bizarre that I don't think people could handle a second go round. Joseph... was all wrapped up by the end. And you can't really write a sequel to Jesus Christ Superstar because, well... your main character is kind of dead, so unless you're planning on it being "Easter: the Musical", you're pretty much shit out of luck. But in all honesty, the logic of choosing to make Love Never Dies is truly befuddling. In my mind, there are two possible explanations:

A.) He honestly thought he had a well-crafted score and libretto, and that he could produce a quality production that would garner critical and popular acclaim.

B.) This is some sort of fantasy of ALW's wherein he gets to vicariously live out his failed relationship with his own Christine (or it's just a huge "suck it, Sarah Brightman!") and show the world that loving and lusting after a woman considerably younger than you who really doesn't share your sentiments and was only seduced by your music is totes fine and not creepy at all.

I'm not sure which one is more frightening. Maybe his cat had it right after all.

Who's Crazy?

As mentioned in Hillary's first post, we've well established the fact that we lead double lives. Average college student by day, Broadway junkie by...pretty much every hour of the day and night. (We have now been either awake in preparation for, in transit to or from, or actually in New York City, at every hour of the day. All by the tender ages of 19 and 20. If that's not an accomplishment, I don't know what is.)

The next two months of our lives will be no exception. On the contrary, in fact - we're making more trips to the city than ever before. Out of the six weekends that we have left at school before classes end for summer and finals begins, we will spend four of them in New York City. We will wake up at the crack of dawn on multiple occasions to catch the Megabus, which we should probably own some sort of stock in by now. We will spend approximately 20 hours in transit (barring any serious traffic jams, which is highly unlikely). And we will see a total of five Broadway shows and two concerts in the next six weeks.

Our upcoming schedule is as follows:

March 19 - Next to Normal, with the fabulous Jessica Phillips taking on the role of Diana for the week while Tony winner Alice Ripley is on vacation. After seeing the show *cough* times, catching understudies becomes a valued experience, and seeing a different take on Diana morphed into a life goal that we will finally accomplish. After several blatant attempt to see her, all of which failed epically, our rear mezzanine seats are purchased, and we can't wait until next Friday.

March 27 - American Idiot is a new, sure-to-be-groundbreaking rock musical with a brilliant creative team and a top-notch cast. Attending the show in previews on Broadway, and its fourth performance in New York, no less, is going to be absolutely mind-blowing, even from the top of the St. James balcony. And, on a personal note, I can't quite describe what it will mean to finally see John Gallagher Jr. perform live.

April 17 - Our first trip following Easter break was initially planned around The Spring Standards' CD release show at Le Poisson Rouge. After following this group of incredibly talented personalities and their brilliant music for nearly two years, I'm so proud to watch them create their first full-length record. Seeing them perform on their home turf for the first time is sure to be electrifying. We also decided to add In The Heights to our day, for which we will be trying lotto for the opportunity to see Corbin Bleu in the title role of Usnavi before he departs the show.

April 21 - Four days later, Hillary and I will make our second Wednesday adventure to the city this year, to attend Matt Doyle's solo show at Joe's Pub. Though song choices and guest stars have yet to be announced, Matt's blog informs us that he will be performing songs by up-and-coming composers such as Kerrigan & Lowdermilk, Joe Iconis and Ryan Scott Oliver (which we are praying includes a reprise of "Last Year's Alcohol").

April 24 - A mere three days later, our final trip to the city for the year will commence as we completely ignore the fact that we will be in New York three times in one week. Oops. We're planning a two-show lotto day as we look forward to catching the new Tribe over at Hair after they've had a few weeks to settle into the Hirschfeld, and returning to our favorite, Next to Normal, one day before our one-year anniversary.

Our plans are certainly adventurous, time-consuming, and possibly a tiny bit insane. But hey - life is meant to be lived, right? And what better time to be crazy than the college years.

Inaugural Post - The Genesis of Super Awesome Broadway Ninjas

It all started late one night in early March (aka last week). Michelle and I, both home on spring break, had been attempting to watch Sutton Foster on Law & Order: SVU (the fact that her appearance was the impetus for watching the show speaks, I think, to our love of most things Broadway). Alas, we were an hour late, as two episodes aired back-to-back that night (I then sat through an hour of Mischa Barton attempting to employ a New York accent, trying and failing not to wince at her failure). It was at 11:28 that our fateful text conversation began, and it went (verbatim... or whatever the text equivalent of that is) like this:

Michelle: So, when Matt Doyle announces his show, we're going.

Me: We have no life. It's awesome. I approve whole-heartedly of any plans you may be concocting.

Michelle: No, but the thing is, we totally DO have a life! It's just a double life! Nothing's been officially announced yet so we have some time. I'm just thinking that now that Sarah will have her car, it's going to make things 18x easier...

Me: Truth. And I love having a double life. It's like we're secret awesome broadway ninja spies. How kickass is that?

Michelle: We can totally start a twitter. @secretawesomebroadwayninjaspies

Me: OMG that would be fantastic! And a blog, or maybe a vlog... that would be cool ;-)

Michelle: omg. Let's do it. Maybe not a twitter, haha, but definitely a blog.

Me: I'm down. I'm pretty sure we could write an hysterical, kickass blog. We have skills.

Michelle: *You still ain't got no skills* It's set, then - project for when we get back to school.

Me: Awesome. I'm stoked.

And that, dear readers, is how Super Awesome Broadway Ninjas came to be. Now, we don't pretend to be experts on the Broadway scene, or even on theater in general (we do, however, pretend to be on Broadway when we dance on stage at "Hair," but that's another matter entirely). We simply love musical theater and Broadway too much to not comment on it, especially on all the insanely awesome and/or bizarre things that occur. And we really just  thought it would be fun. So... yeah. We'll be commenting on a variety of things, from shows we've seen to shows we've regrettably (or not) seen, as well as concerts and any news concerning our fave Bway stars. Be on the lookout for more posts from us in the near future and we thank you for checking out the blog!