Love This Moment


Friday, July 25, 2008

More New York Reviews:

Hey everyone. So I went back to New York to do some research for next year's Productions Revue (plus I had to see "In the Heights" again!) So here's what I thought:

Still my favorite show I saw between both trips. Such heart and soul! Such great dancing and characters. The show really makes you feel as well. You're taken on a journey in these real peoples' lives. Interestingly enough, I noted that this show received a standing ovation the moment they sang the last note. It was awesome. They had vomited their souls to us and we wanted to give back to them. Surprisingly to me, the same did not happen in the more spectacle-centered productions of "Lion King," "Mary Poppins," and the barftastic "Little Mermaid" which all included a lot more wow-inducing spectacle moments. They just weren't as real and human as In the Heights. So take that for what its worth. Robin DeJesus' performance as the young and enthusiastic Sonny is one of my favorite performances ever. He is so freaking funny...and yet, he's the one that really tugs at your heart strings towards the end. Go see this show!

Well, I have never seen such amazing things happen on a stage. From Bert tap-dancing on the ceiling to Mary flying out over the audience, to a bed magically appearing out of nowhere...the show was quite spectacular in the literal sense of the word. What was cool though was the way they wrote the show. They included a lot more character development than the movie has (especially with Mr. & Mrs. Banks), and it gives you a lot to think about. So it was kind of a tale of two shows. There were huge plot-less show-stopping numbers (Supercalifragilistic, Step In Time, Jolly Holiday, etc...) which were admittedly quite entertaining, interspersed with some more serious and sometimes dark scenes and songs. Kind of interesting. Gavin Lee who played Bert was so great (he was nominated for a Tony for this last year). Such great energy and honesty in his eyes. Mary Poppins herself (Ashley Brown) was kind of boring actually. I didn't love her. The set design was quite awesome and the choreography was very fun. This was kind of the special effects show. It will be interesting to try to balance the spactacle and seriously moral parts of this show next year in our revue...

So, I have seen 18 shows on Broadway in my lifetime, and this one was definitely the worst. I honestly don't know what Disney is thinking. The show was stolen by the 12-year-oldish boy playing Flounder. And only because when he belted out his part in the song "She's In Love" it was the only moment in the whole show that caught my attention in a positive way. How sad, that a show full of Broadway professionals couldn't outperform a 12 year old kid. They were all so bad! Im not even kidding you.
But the weakness and uncommitted nature of all of the performers is one of the lesser problems, as I think the director (Francesca Zambello) must be trying to ruin Disney's reputation on purpose. The design/concept of the show made absolutely no sense. Almost none whatsoever. You couldn't tell what sea creatures any of the actors were except maybe the mermaids. Apparently the concept was that if you move your arms like you're dog-paddling in the water, and flip back on your heelies (shoes with wheels in the heel) every third step, that means you're in the ocean. It was seriously like 3rd graders came up with it. If I hadn't have seen the movie, I would have thought Sebastian was a weird street performer who really liked the color red, and Scuttle was some sort of homeless man with an orange cone poking out of his head. The choreography was extremely amateurish...even in "Under the Sea" which should have been a great dance number. I had the added misfortune of seeing the understudies for Ursula and Triton (I say misfortune because I so badly wanted to see Sherie Rene Scott!!!...and also the Triton understudy slipped on his heelies and face-planted as he made one of his exits...super-awkward). The Ursula understudy was OK, but her outfit was so stupid, and her parts of the plot so formulaic and insulting to intelligent people (they've adjusted the plot from the movie version) that I couldn't handle her. The script is absolutely horrid.
The music is actually not that bad. All of the songs from the movie are great, and the new ones are kinda cool actually. But just listen to the CD, because if you see how the director, choreographer, and performers interpret those numbers, you will throw up. Was that too harsh? Let's hope we can figure out how to do something respectable with this material.

I guess I wouldn't be so hard on The Little Mermaid, if right down the street The Lion King wasn't so freaking genius. Almost everything Disney did wrong with Mermaid, they executed brilliantly with Lion King. I guess most of that praise should go to the genius designs and concepts of the director Julie Taymor. The cast was a lot more passionate. The adult Simba was a fabulous actor. His emotion was so honest. I wasn't expecting that from a Disney show. The lady playing Rafiki was extremely captiviting and entertaining. The second act numbers "Shadowlands," "Endless Night," "Can You Feel the Love Tonight," and "He Lives In You" are so heartfelt and soul-stirring. The creative costumes and set design elicit gasps from the audience every time...and in a positive way. This is definitely a must-see show that deserves its place as one of the most important shows in Broadway history.

My Favorite Shows on Broadway This Summer:
1. In The Heights
2. Sunday in the Park with George
3. The Lion King
4. Mary Poppins
5. A Chorus Line (I liked this a lot better the first time I saw it last summer)

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