Month: October 2013

Music Monday … 2 Little Lines

I came across that song when I bought an album called I could use a drink by Drew Gasparini. My heart has pretty much room for new musical writers/composers just like him (and Scott Alan and Kerrigan & Lowdermilk….and all these others I own albums of or just stumple across on Youtube and get sucked in). For me “2 Little Lines” is a fabulous example of a song set in an unusual situation and unfolding that HUGE story line in just that small song. I mean: Wow!

My Week #12, Oct 21st – 27th.

what I saw
kept up on my tv shows. nothing else.

what I read    
texts for my dance studies classes. sheet music.

what I listened to
to the participants of Bundeswettbewerb Gesang (national singing competition), this year it’s the musical/chanson turn and I get to listen to them while they practise with their pianists before they go on stage because I’m working to take care of them. Plus: Loads of Next to Normal and Shrek and Man of no Importance.

what I bought 
leafy greens. coffee. more leafy greens. more coffee.

what I did  
I worked three days at mentioned Bundeswettbewerb Gesang which was tough, then I worked at my office at university, had a three-hour-class on Friday, then headed to the office of the criminal dinner entertainment I work for and had a performance to manage in the evening. And an other one on Saturday night. I met two lovely friends, grabed a salad at a great little salad bar with one and coffee with the other.

where I travelled
to and from work.

I do have a good excuse!

I do have a good excuse!

The last three have been quite a tour de force! All I did was working and working and riding my bike to and from work and I had not time to write about my weekend away seeing Next to Normal in German. But I’m still there and this picture is kind of a teaser to what will be soon up: A nerd’s guide to NYC! 🙂

Music Monday … Falling Into You

Okay, for this Music Monday, let’s just listen and be amazed by the perfection – not only of the voices but also of Jason Robert Brown, my all time favourite musical composer. I always return to his work.
(and it kind of reminds me of “All the wasted time” from Parade mixed with some Last 5 Years-tunes.)

My Week #11 Oct 14th – 20th.

what I saw
finally the last episode of Downton Abbey‘s third season. And I started the 4th and I’m finally “back on track”.
the German premiere of Next to Normal. Twice. It was not AMAZING but quite close to that!

what I read    
magazines. sheet music. news.

what I listened to
I assembled a favourites of Oct 2013 playlist including loads of my current (Broadway-)highlights which I listened to on our car ride to Fürth. On the way back we listened to many different songs performend by Pia Douwes who is the German Diana from Next to Normal and to the great OBC of the same musical.

what I bought 
avocados, greens. And a new hat. Something I can wear without destrying my hair-dos. And a new coat in Nuremberg, I needed that.

what I did  
still de-jetlaggin’. Had my first day with my new class mates of dance studies. Worked.

where I travelled
Fürth, Bavaria. To see Next to Normal.

Broadway Up Close

IMG_2545After I published my Broadway thoughts/reviews/whatever you wanna call it here, I thought I’d share a Broadway-related activity with you I really enjoyed.

Somewhere in spring I read on playbill.com (best website yet, where I get all my B’way-knowlegde) about Broadway Up Close Walking Tours and since I enjoy Broadway and walking tours I booked a tour for my mother and myself. (small disclaimer here: Broadway Up Close is in no way sponsoring me, all thoughts are my own)

On Oct. 1st, 1pm we met Tim, owner of BUC and our guide, in front of the Nederlander Theatre (currently home to Newsies, the show we saw the night before) along with our two fellow tour-goers, a married couple from San Diego (I believe). From there we started our almost two hours long tour into Broadway history. I consider myself to be some kind of Broadway-“expert” (as far as being an expert can go living on another continent….), I’m a frequent visitor to playbill.com and broadway.com and I spend hours and hours on gaining more knowledge of Broadway-repertoire because someday it will come in handy when I might be a dramaturg for musical theatre. But almost everything of what Tim told us was completely new to me. Mostly historical stuff (which I love.) and the magical things about Broadway’s early history. I’m very into digging up old pieces of information or discovering new things about old stuff like Tim did at Belasco Theatre (also known as Broaway’s most haunted theatre).

All the time during the tour you can definitely see Tim loving what he does and loving Broadway (‘s history). He knew that my mother’s English wasn’t that good and he talked rather fast and at one point he walked up to me and asked “How’s mom doing?” which I found very caring (she was doing just fine, she loved his way to talk and act something out from time to time….). For everyone who wants to take the tour I don’t want to spoil anything so I will not go into detail here, I’ll just end saying for Broadway lovers it’s definitely worth the money and the time.
I loved it!

Matilda on Broadway

IMG_0996We spend our last night “on Broadway” with Matilda. As someone who was (and is) deeply in love with books and was (and is) rather different from other people, Matilda’s story is quite close to my heart (again: I cried. Not only because it was sad and I could relate to that but also because the children were f*cking amazin!). As a child I never really loved the movie because I disliked Danny DeVito’s portray of Mr. Wormwood so much and here in Germany Roald Dahl’s novels are not really known – maybe they are nowadays but the weren’t in the 90ies, sorry. (read: my movie-musical-comparisons here will be based on pure guessing and thinking that I remember this and that from the movie back then….)

Once again I was quite excited (although it initially had been my mother’s idea to go and see it because I really wanted to see it in London one day) because once again a video made me cry. Not any video of course, it was the performance they did at this year’s Tony Awards. “Revolting Children” is one of my favourite songs from the show because it is so self empowering, in the end the children win over the adults. I love that thought and I always loved it back when I was working at GRIPS Theater in Berlin. In generally I think shows in which children take action and change something about their living conditions are great not only for children but also for adults to get their fix of “unorthodox problem-solving”.

From the videos I already had realized that one of the only differences between child- and adult-actors in that show is the difference in height (and weight). Even in a highly energetic dance number like “Revolting Children” you only see dancing people – adults, children that doesn’t even seem to matter. They seem to have the same ammount of body tension and balance and everything.
Seeing the show live was only prooving me right. Not only did they dance like crazy (I’d say the children in the ensemble are between 9 and maybe 12) but the also do some of the set-changes: They bring in an arm-chair, a TV….smaller, but yet heavy things. They move on stage so naturally.
Comparing that to the situation in Germany: Over here a child could never ever touch something heavy, on rolls or anything.
So I’m standing here in awe and I’m not even talking about Matilda herself yet.

Regarding Matilda now. I’m not sure who of the four girls sharing the part was on that night we saw it, on the board it said Sophia Gennusa would be on, the note in our Playbills said Bailey Ryon. From the appearance I’d guess it was Sophia Gennusa. And that young lady was amazing. She literally took the audience’s hand and guided them through that evening, she totally took the stage. And not only because “she’s a child and sooooooo cute”. She has a steady voice, her acting was crazy good.

Of course the adults were amazing as well. Gabriel Ebert was hilarious he totally deserved the Tony he got for that part (best line: A boy with no thingy?), Lesli Margherita as Mrs. Wormwood was so hilariously stupid and ugly while thinking she looked stunning (best line: “Push, Mrs. Wormwood, Push!” – “I’ll push you in a minute!”). Jill Paice as my favourite character from the movie, Ms. Honey. I would have killed to have one teacher like that in school. Really. And her solo “My House” is so touching! I loved it so much! Craig Bierko does a nice job being evil as Mrs. Trunchbull (another case of travesty-/cross-dressing-performance! Liked the concept of that, too!).

But I really want to write something about the score and the book. Mostly about the score by Tim Minchin. Let’s start with the “School Song”. That song is great because of the creativity it shows about the alphabet. It’s so on children’s eye-level and makes so much sense to adults at the same time I can’t get over it plus it tells us a lot about the school experience that’s going to happen to Matilda and her new class mates. Can you ask for more? The second time they sing through the chorus that actually spell the whole alphabet: “And so you think you’re/ Able to survive this mess by/ BEing a prince or a princess/ you will soon/SEE there’s no escaping trageDY” Let that just sink in for a moment. And “Naughty” and “Quiet” are amazing songs, too. So relatable. But also the Wormwood’s songs like the intro into act 2 with Mr. Woodworm’s “Telly” – which almost is too smart for him. And “When I grow up” (and the way that is staged, holy cow!)

On a more general view I can say: Staging-wise it wasn’t my favourite (because Once and Big Fish are basically living in my heart and brain and everywhere…) but I left Matilda completely stunned by the performance of everybody.

And so I left Broadway (for now).

Pippin on Broadway

ImageThere’s a funny story about me and Pippin.
When I first read about the revival of Stephen Schwartz’ Pippin on Broadway and I also read that Bob Fosse was being mentioned as some kind of inspriring person I new that I need to see that. (our trip to NYC already had been booked by then)

As time was passing and I really didn’t want to get into booking tickets for the shows I realized that Pippin actually had been nominated for 10 Tony Awards – so I booked our tickets to see it literally in the week before the Tony’s and Pippin ended up winning 4 out of their 10 nominations. You could say I was quite lucky – because basically the show sold so many tickets after the awards, that it might have been hard to find tickets.

When we sat down on our seats in the Music Box Theatre (we went on Oct 1st, a Tuesday, we thought it started at 7pm, it did start at 8pm….better than the other way round, right?) we already were Broadway-pros with three shows already under our belt. And we weren’t too easy to touch anymore.
You remember me writing about me not liking to many things to go on onstage at the same time like showing off things? And yes, again, Pippin does that but it’s not like some random person came and went like: “Hey, I found these Hobos outside our Stage Door, they can do funny things like hand stands and jumping through hoops, let’s just do something with them!” (therefore it was okay and I’m sure if I had been older my stage manager- and assistant director-self would have died of serveral heart attacks because of the circus tricks)

The show basically follows a “play in a play”-dramaturgy. There are circus artists lead by the Leading Player (originated as a male part, in the revival played by the perfect and stunning Patina Miller) in their tent, with trapeze and everything acting out the coming of age story of Pippin son of Charles The Great (for the German readers: Karl der Große).
They are – more or less – comparable to the mechanicals from A Midsummer Night’s Dream acting something they don’t really now and they need help with (here provided by the Leading Player who gives them instructions on how to…) or some of Brecht’s plays. The circus setting gives the story the craziness which – in my opinion – is needed to display the weirdness of the story and the mania of Leading Player as some kind of dictator over his/her actors.

This revival is – for the most part – some kind of circus show. People showing off their tricks and dancing very (very, very, very!) fancy and gorgeous chereographies in Bob Fosse’s style, top hats, colourful costumes, Clowns doing funny things. But at some point, midway through the second half it changes and suddenly becomes a ‘real’ coming of age-story and one about emanzipation, the characters leave the parts they play in the Pippin-storyline and become ‘real’ humans. Of course they are not real by any means but more real than the artificial characters they play in the saga.

Although – as already said – that plot and the setting is rather simple it’s a nice production even besides the Cirque du Soleil-artists. Even though they are acrobatical highlights they are exposed only very few times during the show. Mostly there is so much going on at the same time (some walking on hand here, someone climbing a pole there….) that only “virtuosity on the whole” is shown and not by all means the virtuosity of someone on his own.
As someone who spend a rather large ammount of her studies thinking and writing about performances of travesty – men portraying women, women portraying men the performance of Patina Miller is stuck in my head as a very special performance. Writing about that here, now would be boring for most people and to only give my final thought on that: I’m glad they let a women take her chance on playing the Leading Player. Very, very, very glad.

Music Monday … Fight the Dragons

After I saw the concept of ‘Musical Monday’ on the blog of BroadwaySpotted.com I let some time pass to decide if I wanted to adapt that thing. And since my listening habits kind of turned into obsession for one special song or even only one bar or one specific harmony.

For today I want to share a song from the new musical adaption of Big Fish by Andrew Lippa, especially this kind of unplugged performance the fantastic Nobert Leo Butz (who’s playing Edward Bloom in the show) offers to us here…

My Week #10 Oct. 7th – 13th

what I saw 
sadly I didn’t make it to see any theatrical performance at all. So all I was left with was the latest episodes of the TV shows I watch.

what I read    
MIchael Riedel’s theatre column. random news on the internet.

what I listened to
basically all I listened to was the recording of First Date I brought home from NYC as well as “Wheels of a Dream” from the original Broadway recording of Ragtime. And “Fight the dragons” from Big Fish which I found some videos of…

what I bought 
an avocado! Yay!

what I did  
I de-jetlagged. I worked two nights, worked at my university job and I met my new classmates for the first time. We’ll see how they are next week.

where I travelled
Rostock, Baltic Sea. For work, we drove up there and returned the same night after the performance.