Musical

Music Monday … TwentySomething

I LOVE Kerrigan and Lowdermilk’s music and I really wonder why I haven’t featured them in my Music Monday series already! I did feature their album Kerrigan-Lowdermilk Live in my Top 5 (Musical Theatre) Recordings of 2013 though. TwentySomething is a song not included on the album and as you can tell from the publishing date on Youtube it’s a rather ‘old’ song. I know that when I first got hooked by their music it was that song which played on my computer for hours! I remeber (or maybe I just make that up) spending complete Sundays listening to that song. – Yes, as my regular readers already can tell I’m getting quite easily obsessed with some things….

Anyway….I simply LOVE how that the beat suddenly get really intense about halfway through the song.

And I mean: Caissie Levy.

What are you listening to today?

Advertisements

My Week #18, Dec. 7th – 14th

Well, that was the week of my Mom’s birthday – which was yesterday and I had to spend pretty much all day at university. 😦 But nevertheless we had a great time together, we always have since we live together (even though we don’t really see each other very often these days). I love you, Mama.

what I saw
mostly the criminal dinner entertainment thingies again, and pretty much most of Smash’s Season 2 – except for the last two episodes. And Kiel. I saw Kiel, again.

what I read    
some dance studies texts. Magazines.

what I listened to
Scott Alan’s “Live” – that re-listen was so needed.

what I bought 
mostly food.

what I did  
I worked, a lot actually, went to Kiel to meet some amazing people over there and went back, my cold became more intense once more and then I had a two day intensive class at uni.

where I travelled
to Kiel. And back the next day. 🙂

Next to Normal in Germany

Two weeks after returning from the US I left home again for another theatrical adventure. We drove about 450 km down South to what I consider to be Bavaria (I learned some people call it Franken), to Fürth to be exact. Fürth is a small town extremely close to Nuremberg and Erlangen and their local theatre dove “head first into fate” by producing the German premiere of Next to Normal.

Speaking of Next to Normal: I’ve always admired the music, it goes so well with the story which is so much different from most of the things we get to see on musical theatre stages. I got the recording right when it came out and I’ve always wanted to see the play itself. So Fürth was kind of my chance. And then they also assembled a cast I was beyond excited about. Both of the women I’ve seen serveral times on stage and I loved the thought of Pia Douwes playing Diana from the start, while I was kind of sceptical about Sabrina Weckerlin as Natalie – since she’s already in her mid-twenties and I’ve never been too amazed by her acting (her voice is great, no question, but everytime I saw her perform I ended up being like: I KNOW she can act but somehow she never has to because either the directors aren’t that clear about what they wanted her to do or it was some kind of laziness…okay, that was mean.). I also saw Dirk Johnston who played Gabe perform in the show every class of UdK (Universität der Künste/University of Arts)-graduates in Musical/Show puts together and he’d already recorded two songs from Next to Normal translated into German. I also knew Thomas Borchert (Dan) as a performer so the only ones left unknown were Dominik Hees (Henry) and Ramin Dustdar (Dr. Madden).

Staging-wise I was almost 100% sure that it would be a not that original production (and I was right, I have a strange feeling it copied most of the staging and staging-ideas from the Broadway production, it even has the same set, only a lot smaller and fitted exactly onto that stage) in some points it worked well, in some it didn’t – at least in my point. There were so many hits showing a very specific way of reading the material, but in my opinion they were too few to actually be a way of reading the material. If you know what I mean.

For example there were some moments in which Gabe gives things to people (his mother and sister in particular) that might actually destroy them or the things around them (Natalie only ‘finds’ her mother’s pills after Gabe put them in front of her…) but I have a strange feeling this thought wasn’t taken as far as it could have been.

Anyway, I wasn’t there to see a brilliant production, I was there because I really wanted to see this cast and I was too curious about the translation by Titus Hoffmann (who was also the director). I am very picky about translations and I have to say as sad (and funny at the same time) as some things (aka mishaps…) in this translation are it has its great lines. One of my favourite lines is the translation of “Can you tell me, what it is you’re afraid of” (Dan in “I am the one”) into “Kannst du sagen, was es ist, dass dir Angst macht” (“Can you tell me, what it is you are fearing”), I think what Diana is experiencing is in deed fear. And “Angst” is actually a word that sounds very much like what it means. Note: If you’re a regular visitor to my blog you might already know that I’m weird…

As far as the mishaps are concerned I won’t get started. The funniest moment is in fact during “I am the one” right when Dan reaches the end of his arguments and he bursts into singing-shouting “Oh YEAH YEAH” and I’m not even sure about how ridiculous that is in English but I’m pretty sure it’s the most ridiculous things of the ridiculous in German. I actually had to laugh in the auditorium. And I couln’d stop. It was very sad, because it’s one of my favourite songs. For a really sad one….no, I won’t even get into writing about the translation of “Superboy and the invisible girl”. No. NO!

But, let’s talk about the performers. Sadly the men didn’t really catch me, no. I don’t know if he was ill or this throat was sore, but Mr. Johnston had to do some scary things with his voice in both shows I saw making him sound like he has no body at all. He really didn’t sound like I remembered his voice – but he did some acrobatics with/on/around a pole connecting the two floors of the set and he did that well, I have to give him that. You didn’t see that much of Ramin Dustdar, his Dr. Fine with a huge viennese accent was quite funny. I liked Dominik Hees’ portray of Henry and I like Henry as a character (can I have a Henry, please?). Thinking about Thomas Borchert as Dan (“Oh YEAH YEAH!”) I come to the conclusion that I really, really liked his acting. Especially in the last third of the show when everything is really concentrated on the acting (no light-effects, almost no colours….) I realized how much of a strong actor he is.

Now….the ladies. Pia Douwes might have shown me the strongest performance of a female actor in musical theatre I saw this year (the male one HAS to be Norbert Leo Butz. Like…there’s not even room for discussion). Her Diana is so fragile and over the top and strong at the same time, she’s clueless and over-reacting and Mrs. Douwes voice gives a very specific tone to all of these characteristics. Right in the beginning she just takes you along with her on Diana’s journey through the plot. From what I saw in videos her Diana thinks kind of more clearly than Alice Ripley’s and some might say: A clear Diana, really? And then I say: How much scarier is that when you see someone seeming to be so clear in her head and then doing these strange things? Because, yes, she does strange things and they develop from a – what seems to be – clear state of mind. Regarding her singing: I’m still a little speechless after two weeks… (I’m very looking forward to the recording, they announced a live recording of that production shortly after my visit.) I still can’t get over how intense that performance was. By the way the same applies to the performance of her ‘daughter’ portrayed by Sabrina Weckerlin. She definitely can play funny (we learned that there) and sad and crazy but most of all: She can act! Yay! I was proven right! And I especially liked the chemistry between those to ladies – and their voices. They both have very strong voices, of course, and very special, unmistakable ones – but very different from each other. That being said they didn’t mix well, the didn’t blend in together that much – a thing that many people might dislike but for Diana and Natalie I loved that. Those two characters are so alike and so different from each other at the same time it is actually great that the actresses can sing together and not together at the same time. (if that makes any sense at all)

Now two weeks after my visit I love that Next to Normal was brought to Germany with that kind of a kick-off-production and it even was reviewed on the very serious German theatre critic website Nachtkritik, which mostly reviews straight plays only. For any musical theatre expert media I am very excited for the review in the German musical theatre magazine musicals. But while I’m waiting for that I’ll read the libretto and the score for my dramaturgical concept of a piece of my choice for my admission exam in dramaturgy in musical theatre.

Have you ever seen any production of Next to Normal, maybe even the one in Fürth? I would be very happy if you shared your thoughts!

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.

My Week #9 Sept 30th – Oct 6th.

what I saw 
Newsies. Very spontaneous because it was Monday night and we hadn’t anything to do. This dancing!
Pippin. Oh Lord! These Bob Fosse-style choreography just killed me. And these circus tricks – I’m sure I’ve had more than one heart attack.
Fetch Clay, Make Man. Visiting the New York Theatre Workshop seeing a play. Nice work, although I’m not into boxing at all plus I don’t know anything about Mohammad Ali.
Matilda. These children are talented, the show where the only diffrence between the child-actors/dancers and the adult-actors/dancers is the difference in height.
The season premiere of Homeland‘s 3rd season. Well. Let’s see what happens next.

what I read    
the American Instyle. The New Yorker. Blogs.

what I listened to
on the plane I finally had the time to do some music listening. Matilda (Stratford), Parade (OBC), Addams Family (OBC). At home I listened to my recently purchased First Date-recording and Ragtime. A lot. And the revival recording of The Last 5 Years, my all time favourite musical.

what I bought 
I went a little clothes shopping, nothing too special except for a cap/hat-thingy looking rather 20ies.

what I did  
NYC stuff. Met two friends, firstly Victoria I met in Israel last summer when we were in the same class (thanks again for lunch, Michael!), and Sarah a friend from university back in Germany (who came over with her mom and her sister) and we shared a fabulous Whole Foods lunch in Union Square Park!
Flew home, had coffee with my loveliest friend – by the way he’s fabulous.

where I travelled
home. 5’11” (180cm) in a plane for eight hours straight. Overnight. And yes, it was as fetching as it sounds.

Big Fish on Broadway

Big Fish Playbill and Ticket

Although Big Fish has been only the second Broadway show we saw in the past days I’ll write about it first because they officially open on Broadway tonight!

And while most of my crying during Once (the first show we saw) was about “Oh my gosh, it’s soooo good. It’s soooo good it restores my faith in musical theatre!” my crying here was less about how good it was (after Once the expectations were pretty high, though), which of course it was, too, but more about its actual sadness. And oh yeah – it was sad. And beautiful. And sad again. And, Lord, it was good! (and sad again. and beautiful. and …)

To start: I kind of was (and still am) obsessed with only one little riff Norbert Leo Butz (playing Edward Bloom) does in Moving too fast from Jason Robert Brown’s The Last 5 Years (which Seth Rudetsky talks about in one of his videos around 3:40 to 4:15), so seeing him perform in Big Fish was kind of a big deal.
Next: I haven’t seen the movie or read the book. So I was a complete Big Fish-Newbie.
I’m not very keen on theatre productions (be they with or without music) displaying a lot of stuff on stage. Costume-wise, set-wise, fancy effects – that kind of things, you know.

And that was my first thought about Big Fish, when in the witch scene the ensemble-members start moving and that makes the trees look like their roots are moving and people in the audience were applauding. I’m not really into applauding for ‘computer tricks’. Along that the show offers a huge repertoire of bigger and smaller effects I really don’t wanna spoil, but let’s just say: Yes, of course there is a giant and there are quite a few super nice video animations that work great as a set. And while the show went on I realized as little as I like this ‘over the top’-stuff (as I want to call it) in general I really (really. REALLY) liked it in Big Fish. After all it’s a story about dreaming big and about imagination, so it really calls for imagining things and helping a audience to dream big. So I made officially peace with it.

And it was worth it! Wow! Not only is Norbert Leo Butz a phenomenal actor in that show – he really gets to show off a lot. Going from the old, dying man to the young, active version of that very same man in a second without giving the audience a chance to doubt that chance or one or the other interpretation is accomplishment I’ve never seen before and believe me or not: I’ve seen a lot.
Earlier that day when I met my best friend and I was telling him about the show I said: If that doesn’t win him a Tony Award I’ll do something crazy – I’m not settling on what I’ll do, but I’ll think of something when the time arrives. And I’ll stand by my word.

Next on: Kate Baldwin. Boy, she is great as well. She can play the taken back wife that gives all the stage to her husband, the caring wife when he’s close to his death and when the circus scene comes along when she ‘auditions’ with two of her girl friends for a part in that circus she’s so adorable young, naive and very true to life that you’d never get the idea of laughing at her in that rather corny trio-singing-dance-number they do.

Along with the two of them there are two versions of their son Will. The young one portrayed by Zachary Unger who gets to say many funny and precocious comebacks to his father’s over the top-stories seems to merge into the older version played by Bobby Steggert who is singing two of the most touching numbers of the show (Stranger was the first time I fought my tears this evening. It was hard but I was successful).

These actors are accompanied by a number of great ensemble-performers taking smaller and larger parts in the ‘stories’ Edward Bloom tells along the way. (among them I really, really liked Ciara Renée as the Witch)

About the music: I really like The Addams Family and I love Andrew Lippa’s version of The Wild Party. That being said it’s safe to say that I LOVE the music of Big Fish. I literally can’t wait for a recording to come out (which hopefully will happen rather sooner than later although it’s not even announced yet). Sadly I haven’t heard so much music of so many different styles that I can’t remember exactly what the music was like in general, I’d need to listen to a recording or something to write a real discription (but: I remember that I really loved Stranger, I know what you want sung by the Witch and Fight the Dragons. – especially the last one is an extremely beautiful song!). But the sound of that music goes really well with the direction (or better: the other way round), one thing suits the other. Susan Stroman’s direction kind of seems to be an absolute necessity of dealing with the music. I repeat myself but: Music and direction seem to be a dream team over there.

And before I write another paragraph about how beautiful and great everything was, only thing I really want to say: I am so grateful I had the opportunity to see it already (thanks to my mom here, for the trip and the company) and everyone else – please, go see it. Or if you can’t go because you’re in good old Europe or something: At least you and youtube the trailer and some songs they put online!

Read you soon!

NYC Aventures Overview

This morning at 7:15 German time we arrived in Berlin after a weird flight with the people in front of me almost crashing my kneecaps (because “long legs, little space” is a not that good combination) and currently my brain doesn’t really feel like thinking but more like listening to music. All day. Nonetheless I really wanted to give an overview of what to expect in the next couple of days or week(s) or whatever.

I spend 10 gorgeous days in NYC, kinda the city of my dreams and did a lot of stuff. One thing was already shared in the post before the last one.

I really want to write something at least about every show I saw (Once, Big Fish, First Date, Newsies, Pippin, Fetch Clay Make Man and Matilda) and some of the other stuff we did.

And: What would you day if I wrote more stuff about (musical) theatre, whatever I watch? A theatre blog? Who’d read that?