Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812

The novel War and Peace is over 1400 pages. Rather than compress the narrative, ala Les Miserables, Malloy has wisely focused on a 70 page subplot.

Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 produced an exciting cast album starring a pre-Hamilton Phillipa Soo and the delicious tenor voice of Lucas Steele. The supporting cast pushes the character voices and the act two lyrics rely on narration, but group numbers like The Prologue and The Opera give a sense of how much fun this show can be in person.

The Broadway transfer will feature the smooth baritone of Josh Groban as Pierre. However the dinner portion of the show has caused the prices to inflate in the transfer to a Broadway production. Hopefully it will last long enough to reach a broader audience outside the passionate core fan base.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Bat Boy: The Musical

I had touched on Bat Boy in my Camp Horror Mad Libs, comparing it to Reefer Madness and Little Shop of HorrorsLike Audrey II, Edgar can only survive on blood. Like Jimmy, Edgar is brought down by his own addictions.

The element Bat Boy introduces apart from the others is the chorus of cruel townsfolk who push Edgar to his downfall. Edgar is less Dracula and more Frankenstein, a tragic creature who is denied love by his appearance.

Scott Miller writes:
"Many musicals are built on the concept of Assimilate Or Be Removed. The central character in many musicals must make a choice to either change in certain ways in order to join the existing community or he must be removed from that community either by leaving or by dying. In The Music Man, Harold Hill turns legit in order to join the River City community. In Sweeney Todd, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Evita, the main characters will not change so they must be removed, by death."

Which side does Edgar fall on? The show is still being produced so you'll have to see a production (or listen to one of the terrific cast albums) to learn.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Dear Evan Hansen

A tip of the hat today to Charles Schulz

The 2016 Tony Awards are over and the new season of Broadway musicals are preparing for their transfers. Dear Evan Hansen received strong reviews for the leading man, Ben Platt, and mixed reviews for the book and score. The show deals with teen suicide but, unlike Heathers, it takes the topic seriously. Still some feel that focusing on Evan's journey, while ignoring the story of the deceased, is a distasteful premise. The musical will open on Broadway in December. Time will tell if there are substantial rewrites from the initial productions.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Musical Revivals of 2016

A quick sketch of this season's revivals before the 40th Annual Tony Awards. Four of these six were nominated for Best Revival of a Musical.

Links to compiled reviews for:
The Color Purple
Dames at Sea
Fiddler on the Roof
She Loves Me
Spring Awakening
The Robber Bridgegroom

Wednesday, June 8, 2016


The concept for Hamilton could have gone very wrong. A hip hop musical about the founding fathers could have been campy like Rockabye Hamlet or dull like Ben Franklin in Paris. Happily Lin-Manuel Miranda took the time to workshop, try-out, write and rewrite till Hamilton had the proper mix of history and drama.

Miranda gives most of the rap to Hamilton himself, while the melodies go to the supporting cast. This lets Aaron Burr steal act two with “The Room Where it Happens” and “The World Was Wide Enough.”

Hamilton is set to sweep the Tony Awards this Sunday. The material is strong and should run long after the original cast departs. Will we get strong regional productions or is the show to large in scale? Will high schools perform awkward all white productions, like we’ve seen with The Wiz and Once On This Island? Will the score hold up or will the “contemporary” music seem dated when the inevitable film rolls around 10 years from now? To quote Miranda: "Who lives, who dies, who tells your story?"

Here's a link to a gorgeous collection of fan art.

Monday, June 6, 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Coming Out of Their Shells

I didn't care for the recent Turtles movies, but it's important to remember that the Turtles have survived worse. Eastman and Laird created and published them as an independent comic in 1984. When Playmates bought the rights to a toy line the Turtles expanded into a global franchise. Eastman and Laird struggled to keep creative control and got buried in an avalanche of property rights contracts and lawsuits.

In the early 90's some actors in creepy animatronic suits toured the states dancing to pre-recorded songs. A "behind-the-scenes" look at the tour was released on VHS. The composers of these songs seem uneager to take credit.

The live singing arrives as an 11 o'clock power ballad for news reporter April O'Neil. Good lord is that... yes it is!... That's Broadway's Sherie Rene Scott playing April! And what on earth have they done to her hair?

Friday, June 3, 2016

Tony Awards Ballot - Best Musical 2016

The 70th Annual Tony Awards are next Sunday, June 12 at 8/7CST and will be broadcast on ABC.

You can download a ballot through their website. I've had a chance to draw three of the nominees and will be working on the big one next week.

Thursday, June 2, 2016


Camp is hard. Good camp looks effortless, but for every Little Shop of Horrors there are ten Rachael Lily Rosenblooms. Douglas Carter Beane had a low bar to hurdle as the film was a notorious flop. He was also wise to keep it to a 90 minute run time. Other comedies would benefit from such brevity. Add a viral marketing campaign and some backstage drama and you've got a modest hit.

Performance Clips
Evil Woman
Don't Walk on By