Category Archives: All the World’s a Stage

Our Trip to Paris via Amélie on Broadway


I received a free pair of tickets to Amélie on Broadway in order to facilitate my review. The opinions here are mine. 

Last week, I had the chance to see Amélie, the new musical currently playing at the Walter Kerr Theater. The musical is based on the movie of the same name that charmed audiences way back in 2001.

I’ve looked so much better in this life.

I was thrilled to be able to take my daughter as my date. It really is a wonderful mother-daughter experience. She’s getting ready to head out to college, to live a life that’s only limited by her imagination, just like Amélie. There was a lot for her to relate to in the show.

Amélie, A New Musical

I simply loved the movie when I first saw it. The story of a girl who grows into a woman learning to balance life in the big world after experiencing a solitary, sheltered, and often times sad upbringing.

There are definitely people for whom the movie was too cute and too quirky. I totally couldn’t get enough of Audrey Tautau’s performance.

When I heard the show was coming to Broadway, I had a lot of questions. Could they carry over the charm of the movie to the stage? What would the songs sound like (the movie had a rather unique soundstrack)? Who would play the charming and imaginative French girl?

All would be answered in time. First, yes, the charm of the movie remains, and much of that is thanks to the majestic Phillipa Soo who plays the title character. Her performance is simply perfect. She is light personified and has not an ounce of guile, which is an extremely difficult thing to pull off.

Amélie, A New Musical

We had a moment of utter joy when we realized that Adam Chanler-Berat was playing Nino. He was one of our favorite parts of Peter and the Starcatcher, and since we feel like we discovered him, it was a thrill to see him as Amélie’s love interest. Really, the whole cast is bringing it every night. So impressed with the talent there.

I haven’t been to a show that runs without an intermission—this show goes just under two hours. I have to admit that I liked it. People in the know say that’s a thing. It gave me the impetus to get my beverage first, and enjoy it in the sippy cup throughout the show.

My only disappointment was the musical score. It was nice, but I certainly didn’t have any songs going through my head when I walked out of the theater. Selfishly, I wanted to hear a great 11 o’clock number from Ms. Soo, but I guess without an 11 o’clock moment due to no intermission, that wasn’t going to happen.

If you get a chance to see Amélie in it’s Broadway run, don’t hesitate because the show will be closing on May 21. It’s a delightful fantasy that will get you dreaming big.

Amelie is playing  at the Walter Kerr Theatre at 219 West 48th Street with ticket prices starting at $49.50.

Visit http://ameliebroadway.com for show times, more details and to purchase tickets.

 

A Musical Petting Zoo?

phiirThere are many benefits to living near NYC.  We are so close to amazing museums, great Broadway (capital B here!) shows, and many musical events. But sometimes you don’t want to head into the city. It’s nice to have options in Westchester for entertainment and musical enrichment.

I recently learned about the Westchester Philarmonic through a friend.  Now in its 31st season, the Westchester Philharmonic is the oldest, continuously running professional symphony orchestra and largest performing arts organization in Westchester County. The Philharmonic’s main stage concert series makes its home at the 1,300 seat Concert Hall at the Purchase Performing Arts Center, as well as outdoor concerts, chamber concerts, children’s programs, and special events throughout the area, attracting savvy music-lovers from Westchester, Fairfield, Rockland, Putnam, and Bergen counties, and even New York City.

This Sunday, they are hosting a family-friendly performance of Mozart’s THE MAGIC FLUTE  and selected other pieces.  Beginning at 2 pm teaching artists from the Philharmonic will be on hand in the lobby to guide young listeners in a “musical petting zoo” as they explore violins, cellos and more courtesy of Ardsley Musical Instrument Service, the place where we’ve always gotten our kids’ instruments!

 

Here is some more information on the performance.  Hope to see you there!

Mozart: Overture to The Magic Flute
Grieg: Piano Concerto
Beethoven: Symphony No. 2

BUY ONLINE NOW
Or, call (914) 682-3707

The Phil invites audiences to hop aboard Principal Conductor Ted Sperling’s guided tour to a family-friendly program, perfect for all ages yet fully satisfying to the most sophisticated musical palates. Opening with Mozart’s mischievous Overture to The Magic Flute, the whirlwind scene is set for renowned pianist Anne-Marie McDermott performing the magnificent Grieg Piano Concerto, with its famous opening passage. Then optimism and boundless possibility suffuse Beethoven’s Second Symphony.

*February 8 concert tickets for young people 17 and under are FREE with a paid adult ticket but you must call to reserve your seat. Advance reservations are required. Call (914) 682-3707*

Disclosure: I received 2 complementary tickets to the Philharmonic to facilitate writing this post. 

All the World’s a Stage, March Edition

Screen Shot 2013-04-19 at 10.34.45 AMLast month, I had the pleasure of taking in two new productions on Broadway.

This was pretty unique for several reasons.  First off, both plays were in previews when I saw them.  What exactly does that mean in this day and age?  Well, productions in previews can still and often do make changes to songs, casts, and running order.  The performers haven’t done the play for months and months, so sometimes they miss a cue or the staging is off.  I rather like that – it can feel fresher than other plays where you know that someone has done the part 700 times and could do it in his sleep.  Secondly, I don’t often go to two shows in a month.  Really.  In the case of the musical, we had been planning since October to see it, and we knew we had to buy tickets first to get good seats.  When it came to the play, a group of theater going friends mentioned that we hadn’t seen anything in ages, and we needed to get another play in our diaries.  A couple of productions were suggested, but since it was a limited run, we decided on LUCKY GUY.

Also worth noting, neither of these tickets were comped or discounted.  That’s the sound of me paying full fare, in case you were wondering.

So let’s talk LUCKY GUY.  Here’s the description, directly from the Lucky Guy website:

Two-time Academy Award® winner TOM HANKS makes his Broadway debut in the world premiere of three-time Academy Award nominee NORA EPHRON’s play LUCKY GUY, directed by two-time Tony Award® winner GEORGE C. WOLFE.

LUCKY GUY marks a return to Ephron’s journalistic roots in a new play about the scandal- and graffiti-ridden New York of the 1980s, as told through the story of the charismatic and controversial tabloid columnist Mike McAlary, who won the Pulitzer Prize shortly before his untimely death on Christmas Day, 1998.

The story of McAlary is told through his fellow journalists and his wife. It takes place during the great newspaper wars of the late 1900s (sounds so old doesn’t it?)  I remember well reading the tabloids and following along with the strikes, columnist tantrums and the like.  I always thought it was so glamorous, the hard-bitten life of a journalist.  And so did playwright Ephron.  You can tell that she wants to bring back the glory of the newspaper man.

So overall, there are good things and not so good things about the production.

GOOD THINGS – First, the actors.  Even though Tom Hanks rules the marquee and does a wonderful job in the title role, it’s Courtney B. Vance who had me marveling at how damn good he was.  Sure, you’ve seen him in movies and on TV, you know he’s an amazing actor.  But in this show he ruled the stage.  The supporting cast was very good too.  All top notch actors.  Mostly.

Next, the pacing of the story was very good – kept you really interested and cut way down on the fidget factor.  The staging was very creative and well done.

NOT SO GOOD THINGS: Perhaps it is a fault of the story or of the times, but I found the female POV to be lacking.  Mike’s wife Alice is a part of the story, but I found her perspective to be lacking.  Also, at the end, she has what is supposed to be a long and touching monologue but it just didn’t move me.  Maybe it was the actress (Maura Tierney) but the character just didn’t bring it home.  It especially bothered me because there was a female playwright.  But I guess you cannot bring to the front that which is firmly in the back.  Deidree Lovejoy had a few scene stealing moments, but again, her character wasn’t written as a main part of the story, probably because there weren’t many women in the news room in those days.

There were one or two scenes that I felt could have been firmed up a bit – the part where Hanks’ and Vance’s characters are experiencing a heroin high felt particularly weak.  Maybe if the playwright had been around during the run she would have worked them differently?  We will never know.

Overall, this is still a play to catch if you have the time.  It’s a limited run, so if you are into it, don’t dawdle.  It’s been extended through July 3, so you have more options!

 

courtesy of RSC
courtesy of RSC

Next, MATILDA!  I saw this performance in London last year at the urging of a friend.  And when I say urging, I’m not kidding.  To pacify her, I literally walked off the plane, dropped my bags, and headed to the theater to snag a ticket.  It was a Wednesday, and I was looking for Saturday night, but by luck they had seats at that day’s matinee.  I was able to get a great seat in the stalls, walk around Covent Garden for an hour or so, enjoy a falafel on the street, and then head in for the performance.  Jet lag be dammed!  And you know what?  It was completely worth it.  The show is amazing, but you don’t need me to tell you that.  Reviewers on both sides of the pond have come out cheering for the story of the little girl dreams of a better life and took a stand to change her destiny.

I recall saying to a woman in front of me who had brought her daughter to the show that it was one of the best shows I have ever seen.  She agreed, having come from NEW ZEALAND with the specific goal of seeing it.  I said that I hoped the US productions would get the accents right and I would imagine they would do something like bring the amazing Bertie Carvel who plays evil Miss Trunchbull to the US in order to have some buzz from the get go.

I’m all for saying I’m right, and when the US production was announced, Carvel’s name was attached to it.  I was thrilled – I desperately wanted to take Sarah to see it.  I even called our theater friends from outside the show in London, yelling something unintelligible about WE NEED TO GET TICKETS TO THIS IMMEDIATELY.

As soon as tickets went on sale, we picked up some for one of the previews.  It was everything we hoped it would be.  The girls were amazed by the visuals of the production and power of the performances of all the actors, especially the Trunchbull!  I can’t wait for the Tonys to be announced.  Mark my words, just like in London, MATILDA will be nominated for EVERYTHING.  I hope they perform “When I Grow Up” on the awards show – that number just makes my heart sing.

So, two very different shows, appearing right next to each other, but both worth your time and money.

 

 

A Night with ANN

0It’s time for the Pixie Dust Girl to get back to the theatre!  I’ve had quite a month when it comes to seeing shows, and I want to share it all with you, starting with ANN.

Last week, I got the chance to check out this new play written by and starring actress Holland Taylor.

ANN is an intimate, no-holds-barred portrait of Ann Richards, the legendary Governor of Texas. This inspiring and hilarious new play brings us face to face with a complex, colorful and captivating character bigger than the state from which she hailed. Written and performed by Emmy Award winner Holland Taylor (“Two and a Half Men”), ANN takes a revealing look at the impassioned woman who enriched the lives of her followers, friends and family.

Let me just say that I absolutely ADORE Holland Taylor.  She’s practically a master class in comic timing.  When I heard that she was doing this play, I was intrigued.  Where did she come up with the idea of taking on the story Ann Richards, Texas Governor?  Would my conservative Texas father disown me for attending the play, even though I was there for the actress, not the story?  Could a one-woman show that runs about 2 hours with an intermission keep my attention and ward off the fidget bugs?

The answers to these questions are here, don’t know yet but remember it wasn’t a political statement, and mostly yes.  Holland Taylor makes you forget you are watching Holland Taylor, and it’s not just the hair and makeup.  She truly embodies this woman, this myth, and makes her real.  From the openings of the play at a commencement address for an unnamed Texas school to the “day in the life” of the Governor, you truly get a sense of what drove this woman and what it was like to be a woman of power trying to lead her state.  The stories she tells about her parents (hint, there may be a reason for her having mother issues) and their place in putting her on the paths she took are intriguing.  There is a very good subplot (if a one-woman play can have a subplot) about a man on death row for murdering an elderly nun – will Gov Richards grant the man a stay of his execution?  She lays out exactly what a governor can and cannot do (issue a 30 day stay, yes, pardon him, no), weaving it expertly into all the other things that the Governor has to do in a day’s work.

Did I fidget?  A bit towards the conclusion of the second act.  After the day in the life ends, there seem to be 3 other scenes of Ann after death looking back that go on a little too long and could have been greatly condensed.  Would I take my husband, the master fidgeter, to see this?  Not sure.  On the one hand, I saw a few males doing the sleepy time head bob in the audience, including one gentleman right in front of me who was about to do a slumbering back flip into my lap.  On the other hand, he adores Holland Taylor too, and that can overcome a lot.  Overall, though, I really enjoyed the play and marveled at the tenacity of Holland Taylor – she’s no spring chicken but she can take over the stage for 2 hours straight, and let me tell you, if she flubbed a line, we were none the wiser.  The show is worth it, just make sure you keep your blood sugar levels even for maximum alertness.

The playing schedule for ANN is: Tuesday and Thursday at 7pm, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday at 8pm, with matinees Wednesday and Saturday at 2pm and Sunday at 3pm. Tickets range from $75 – $125 and can purchased at the Vivian Beaumont Theater box office, online at lct.org or through Telecharge.com (212-239-
6200). A limited number of tickets priced at $30 will be available at every performance through LincTix, LCT’s program for 21 to 35 year olds. For information or to enroll, visit LincTix.org. A, limited number of $30.00 Student tickets for ANN are available two hours prior to curtain at the box office. Students must show
a valid student ID card. There is a limit of 1 ticket per ID.

FOR MORE INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT:
www.theannrichardsplay.com

Disclosure – I was provide with a pair of tickets to ANN by CultureMom Media.  I was not told what to say about the play, and I 100% own my fidgeting.