Now. Here. This. was awesome because, well, the original [title of show] team reunited? Come on. The whole mantra of "it is now, we are here, let's do this" felt particularly relevant to Hillary and I as we soaked up the last few weeks of being college students while anticipating everything that would happen post-graduation. The songs and stories that made up the show were alternately hilarious and tear-inducing, in typical fashion for the work that Hunter, Susan, Heidi, and Jeff seem to produce.
Pipe Dream was our second venture to this year's Encores series at New York City Center. Highlights included our girl Laura Osnes showing off some comedic chops and hearing Will Chase sing a gorgeous, if at times random, Rodgers and Hammerstein score. (By random, we mean "songs about ordering Christmas cards in July" and "songs where Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs suddenly show up on stage.") Plus, a musical that chronicles the escapades of a marine biologist and a spunky prostitute who moves into a large, abandoned pipe on a beach is an event we'll likely never witness again.
Leap of Faith...was a show...that we saw. In its entirety. Not everyone can say that, as it closed after 19 performances at the St. James. We enjoyed the lovely Jessica Phillips' song, "Long Past Dreamin'," at the top of act two. There was also the disco ball jacket worn by Raul Esparza. In other words, sorry, Alan Menken, but while you have many crowning achievements that we adore, this wasn't one of them.
Confession: iTunes informs me that I've listened to "Here Right Now"from Ghost 23 times. We went into the show with expectations ranging from low to apathetic, but came out feeling like we'd spent a the evening watching a fun 90's chick flick. This may be partially because the musical mirrors the movie to a T, right down to the opening title credit projections, but since when should a love of corny movies be a source of embarrassment? We definitely plan on returning to the show for its incredible special effects and illusions and a few really catchy songs, some with better lyrics ("I'm outta here / I'm off to the Bahamas / I'm outta here / you'd better pack my pink pajamas") than others ("Just think about Sam and the times you've shared / open up that dam / try not to be scared"), sung with passion by the terrific Caissie Levy and Richard Fleeshman. My thought process during "I'm Outta Here," the big act two show-stopper sung by Da'Vine Joy Randolph as the Whoopi Goldberg character, was something along the lines of: "I have no idea why she's singing an entire song about money that's not even hers?! But she's killing it and this song is fabulous?!" (The song is now my jam.) There are some real clunkers (see: the Angry Subway Ghost rap... Graffiti Pete from In The Heights called and wants his persona back), but Ghost never tried to be anything more than an entertaining night out, and for that we loved it.
The Sound of Music at Carnegie Hall was a dream. Literally, I think we dreamed that we were actually in attendance at the one-night-only gala starring Laura Osnes as Maria von Trapp. What?! Bucket list: CHECK. Highlights include Ms. Osnes as yodeler, Ms. Osnes as guitarist, Ms. Osnes as professional nanny, Ms. Osnes as choir conductor, Ms. Osnes as music teacher, Ms. Osnes shouting "I've been given permission to SING!" and Ms. Osnes as Queen of Everything.
Other Desert Cities was a strong performance of a strong play, but it didn't smack us over the head and make us think about it weeks later. We were moved but not changed. As the protagonist, Elizabeth Marvel's performance was excellent, and Judith Light was hilarious and quirky as the recovering (or not?) alcoholic aunt, although we felt that her part was fairly small. We also loved being back in the Booth Theater for the first time since our beloved Next to Normal - the renovations are absolutely beautiful.
Our love for Peter and the Starcatcher in its new Broadway home at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre has reached astronomical levels. Without re-reviewing the show since we wrote about it at NYTW, we'll just say that the gang of pirates, orphans, starcatchers, and islanders haven't lost a bit of magic in the transfer. Experiencing the audience's collective reactions to certain moments - when Molly flies; when Black Stache experiences an unfortunate, painful, and, shall we say, fateful, loss in act two - is absolutely priceless and still magical, touching, and sidesplittingly funny after coughcough viewings of the play. We'll be sad to see Tony Award Winner (!!!) Christian Borle depart the show next weekend, but haven't talked to a single person who hasn't fallen in love with the show as a whole, and are confident that its much-deserved success will continue.
A year after our abs finally stopped hurting from laughing so much, I was fortunate to attend The Book of Mormon once again to see Josh Gad's final performance with the show, which is still hilarious and solidly performed all around. Andrew Rannells, who has also since departed the production, still sounded phenomenal right up to the end of his Tony-nominated run, as did the adorable Nikki M. James. There weren't too many chances for things to get sappy and sad until the end, but it was unexpectedly touching to see the original cast together for the last time. Following Elder Cunningham's final reference to Nabulungi as "Nikki M. James," which brought down the house and nearly had Ms. James doubled over in laughter and/or tears, Mr. Gad was visibly moved by the show's final scene.
One Man, Two Guvnors has no social commentary to offer, no witty outlooks on or solutions to the problems in our world, and is a HELL of a lot of fun. The British farce is structured after a typical night of entertainment in an English seaside town, with a mixture of vaudeville, skits, slapstick, and music, and once the audience realized that a night of silliness was at hand, no one stopped laughing for the play's entire duration. The show's on-stage band, reminiscent of the Beatles, is terrific, although I think you could remove them entirely and it wouldn't change the show one bit. Tony winner James Corden plays a dim bulb - One Man - who ends up with two bosses - Two Guvnors - and must continually float between the two without letting one employer know about the other. In the process, he has a full-on wrestling match with himself, smacks himself in the face with a garbage can lid, and eats a LOT of food that he's supposed to be preparing for his guvnors' dinners. Tom Edden as a decrepit but determined geriatric and first-time waiter had the house in stitches as well.
Silence! The Musical did a fine job of highlighting the most outrageous moments from the classic 1991 film. In a nutshell, it was a ton of fun at a tiny theater in the East Village.
When Nina Arianda won her Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Play, Hillary and I screamed like banshees at the TV for about 7 seconds. Needless to say, we are obsessed with Venus in Fur. Fantastic writing, fantastic acting, fantastic staging. What mesmerizing and brilliant performances from both Ms. Arianda and her co-star, the lovely and British Hugh Dancy. We're crushed that its run at the Lyceum is over and sincerely hope you saw it before it closed.
Harvey, the first show of the 2012-2013 Broadway season over at Roundabout, is a good, light, fluffy, family show for the summer. Jim Carnahan couldn't have cast anyone to play the main character, Elwood P. Dowd, more sincerely than Jim Parsons does. In summary: Elwood's best friend is an imaginary rabbit named Harvey. Vita, Elwood's sister, takes him to the local sanatorium because Elwood's innocent antics are scaring away her social circle. The catch? Elwood is so charming that the doctors think Vita is the one who needs to be committed. Hilarity ensues, and eventually everyone realizes that an escape from reality isn't always a bad thing! D'aw.
Seeing Once on the afternoon of the Tony Awards was an experience that included little sleep and a lot of awe. It was worth it. The music and staging in the show is just so, so beautiful. Able to make your heart ache and your eyes teary before you even know the story or the characters. Having all the actors play their own instruments makes the ensemble a collection of individuals rather than just a group of people. Steve Kazee did an amazing, sensitive, subtle job of communicating so much about his character, "Guy," without stating certain things out loud, as did Cristin Milioti, particularly at the end of act two. And full disclosure: we both cried watching Mr. Kazee accept his Tony later that night.
Our feelings about As You Like It at the Delacorte Theater are basically focused on the brilliant Lily Rabe. She's fantastic. She should perform Shakespeare all the time. The entire production is truly excellent, but...but...Lily Rabe. Lily. Rabe.
And finally, Clybourne Park, which won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Play and also deservedly won the Pulitzer Prize last year. The play was very strong in the issues it tackled, but didn't leave us with the revelation of something we'd never thought of before. Rather, the stunted discussion of race in the play illuminated something that's right in front of us every day. With a first act set in 1959 and a second act set in 2009, the show's biggest assets were the many parallels constructed between dialogue, lighting, and character traits that revealed how our society's discussion of race hasn't progressed at all in the past 60 years. We also have a feeling that playwright Bruce Norris would get along smashingly with South Park and Book of Mormon writers Trey Parker and Matt Stone for their shared sense of acerbic, upfront, and at times crude wit.