I knowww, I can’t believe it has taken me this long to see “An American in Paris” either! It came out on Broadway right when I moved across ye olde Atlantic, and it kept just coming short of nabbing a slot on my ever-shrinking Broadway to-do list because a) I figured it would last a long time, unlike other shows that took short-NYC-visit precedence and b) there were rumors of a London production. Luckily that London production has finally arrived, and with better news than I could have hoped – with the two original amazing stars, Robert Fairchild and Leanne Cope! I know! It’s as beautiful a production as I expected, and Robbie (can I call him that okay great) and Leanne are as wonderful as I imagined. There are some sluggish and/or unnecessary parts that scream for editing, but overall it’s a truly splendid time. Also I'm obviously joking in the headline. I mean not 100% but mostly.
“How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” is one of those old Broadway musicals from just after the Golden Age (1961) that I always forget I like. Fun fact: I saw Daniel Radcliffe on Broadway in the 2011 revival of “How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying” (a ‘Birdman’ long title which I will from here on out refer to as H2$) TWICE. I mean I liked Harry Potter fine but I wasn’t a fangirl of Big D until this show. I really can’t believe I saw it twice lol. He was GREAT. That’s not important right now. Funner fact: When Husband learned that the venue around the corner from our flat was doing a small production of H2$, of course we went, considering it is around the corner from our flat, but I completely forgot that I knew the show and that I kind of loved it and that I had seen it enough times for me to memorize pretty much all the lyrics. I just thought, hey sounds fun, I like seeing theatre and we should support the smaller productions in London too. All I remembered really was that there was some hefty ‘60s-era misogyny that we should take with a grain of salt because of when it was written, or as I explained to my friend who came along, “It’s really sexist but in kind of a lovely way.”
The Oscars are Sunday! Are you so excited? Yes you are who's a good boy! I won't get to watch till Monday because they don't air it in the UK and also sleep is nice, but I'm still feeling the buzz of Oscar weekend and all the excitement over what will happen, who will give great speeches, how the musical performances will be, whether the host will be funny. I honestly just had to look up who was hosting, I had no idea but I should have known it was someone named Jimmy. At least it's not the one who is now dead to me but like maybe someday soon we can have a funny host who is not named Jimmy? Or a white man? Why haven't Tina and Amy hosted? Please have them host everything.
What is this, 2015? Because I don’t have strong feelings about any of these movies being crowned Best Picture of the Year! To paraphrase Tracy Jordan, I guess I’m a horse because I’m about to do some naysaying. Sure, some of the below were fantastic but not “erma p this better win the Oscar it blew me away!” levels of Mr. Foxness. None of them were my “Dear Evan Hansen” of the year, is what I’m saying, if we look at this year’s Tony race for a hot minute for comparison’s sake. That show was objectively miles and miles ahead of the other shows on Br’dway this year (and most years) and deserves to win loads of awards. There was no movie equivalent this season. “La La Land” is kind of like “The Great Comet” in that it is the spectacle that is most impressive (but “LLL” has real heart and emotion and good music throughout, not just sporadically, so not the best comparison). And I j’adored a few others, but, like I said, not ‘Best Picture of the Year’ j’adoring. Which is why I said at the beginning that this year reminds me of that difficult year when it was between “Birdman” and “Boyhood”, one movie I RILLS didn’t enjoy and one that was good but not amazing. On the other hand, some of these movies were bad. You’ll see that one in particular was so bad and offensive that the fact that it was up for – and won some – awards makes me cast doubt upon the entire industry and all of its output.
“Fiddler on the Roof” is an important show for so many reasons. It’s a golden age classic with a memorable score that has held up today. It’s up there with other classics like “The Sound of Music” and “Singin’ in the Rain” in terms of how important they were to my upbringing and development. But most significantly, Fiddler is a consistent reminder to a people who apparently need consistent reminding that the fight against racism and fascism is a serious one, a terrible one, and an apparently never-ending one. “Fiddler” has never been as relevant in my lifetime as it is today, as we grapple with the shock and terror of the government discriminating against an entire religion again. Despite this fantastic revival closing over a month ago on Broadway, I’m still thinking about it regularly, about how fantastic this cast and production were, how moved I was at moments that I never really cared for before, how yet again theatre exactly reflects the struggles of humans today. I don’t usually write about things I’ve seen that have long since closed, but I have been thinking about it constantly and about how important it is to keep talking about the issues raised by this beautiful show and to add to the chorus of sane people who don’t think religious persecution is okay.
I don’t think any show has seemed more mysterious and fascinating to me than “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812”, a musical that was on my radar when it was still a dinner theatre production in a giant tent a few years ago. I didn’t get to see it off-Broadway or in Boston, but I was always enamored with how cool it seemed. What doesn’t sound amazing about watching an immersive musical in a giant circus tent and being served Russian food while people sing and dance around you? Well the Russian food I guess but still, so fun. Consequently, I had really high hopes for finally seeing this show, buoyed by the incredible hype borne from the spectacle and novelty of it. I barely even knew what it was about, except that it was an interpretation of “War & Peace” (hence the Natasha and Pierre in the title). And instead of getting to see original star Phillipa Soo, I would get to see the Broadway cast’s star Josh Groban (different role). Change approved!
Last night, a show that defied all odds closed on Broadway, or really we should pronounce it “Br’dway”, as I and others lucky enough to see this show will forever do. “Oh, Hello”, a ‘play’ that makes you laugh even if you just repeat the title like an old kvetcher and fry that last syllable, should never had gone to Br’dway, should never have been the recommended pick of the most esteemed critics, and should never have been one of the funniest things its audiences ever saw. But it was! I still don’t know how to explain this show to people who didn’t see it, because it’s impossible. So I guess it’s kind of stupid that that’s exactly what I’m going to do now. Mostly I just want to document the jokes I remember for posterity, while bidding farewell to some of the most glorious hours I’ve experienced in the theatre, and in 2016 in general. It was a bright spot on an otherwise dark and gloomy year. Or, as we say now, “brit spot”.
For a show that begins with four Jews in a room bitching, in a song called “Four Jews in a Room Bitching”, you would think I’d love “Falsettos”. But when I saw the current Broadway revival of this show, I was somehow left cold, which is pretty hard when the focus is on family dynamics and, suddenly, AIDS. I was having trouble with the choppy direction and erratic pacing throughout the show, but I believe the suddenness of the AIDS story is what fully shut down all my feelings aside from ‘disbelief’ and ‘like you’re being punked’. I’ve been told that I would have enjoyed this particular production more if I was at all familiar with it beforehand (I wasn’t), and I could see how this cast would be a treat if you were a fan of the show. But you shouldn’t need to know a piece beforehand to enjoy it. And honestly, it’s a weird show. There are moments of brilliance (possibly due to the actors involved here), but oof, it was difficult to get through. I’ve never been so impatient for a show to end. And I barely remember ¾ of what I saw.
As usual, the Golden Globes featured some great moments, some surprises, and a lot of really stupid moments. But one of the most noticeable differences this time around was how unfunny the telecast was compared to the past few years. For an awards show that usually has its live and TV audiences in stitches, the laughter was remarkably limited. Sometimes I’ll think of jokes from 2013 and 2014, when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosted, and crack up uncontrollably. Like when they commented on the “Zero Dark Thirty” controversy and chose to believe Kathryn Bigelow because “when it comes to torture, I’m gonna believe the woman who was married to James Cameron.” They were amazing. But this year? I of course dole out a bit of the blame to the always-insane Hollywood Foreign Press for being equal parts bizarre and deluded, but most of the unfunny came from Jimmy Fallon, a person I used to adore and now pretty much despise. He likes to say that he prefers his comedy with rounded edges and doesn’t like to engage in politics, but that’s a rich sentiment coming from his white straight male superwealthy mouth.
After the disappointing (and sometimes infuriating) Spring and Summer, Fall was a gift from god. I adored every single second of it. Okay maybe not every single second but the vast majority of the time I was ecstatic. It felt absolutely perfect, maybe because I so badly wanted it to be but also because it was just so good. Instead of Fall, it could be called 100 Minutes of Epic Crying Fits. So much was so beautiful that I sobbed in that choky hyperventilating way. But that’s good! That’s great, really. That means it hit me how I wanted it to.
I <3 Diversions
Entertainment is a ridiculously big part of my life. I grew up in movie theatres, so in my family you have to see pretty much every movie to make it in conversation. This pop culture knowledge has extended to television, music, and, for me, the theatre. Watch this page for commentary about my favorite TV series, critiques of new (and probably old) movies, and information about the hottest live theatre productions. To quote Abed, I like liking things, so there's that.