Posts Tagged ‘Broadway’

The other night at……Once

Posted on: January 15th, 2012 by Marken Greenwood No Comments

I returned to the city after Christmas heartsore.  Literally, I think I have some sort of ulcer gnawing away at my insides from missing home so much.  I never thought I would grow into a female version of Woody Allen, but it looks like a distinct possibility.

*Tums break*

Upon arriving at my freezing apartment, the only thing that kept me from crying wee wee all the way home was knowing that my friend Brendan had gotten me a Christmas present: tickets to a show the weekend after I returned.  Not any show, but the impossible-to-get-tickets-to-because-it’s-totally-sold-out-and-in-an-off-Broadway-theater “Once”.

I have to admit, the first  time I saw the movie “Once”, I was not distinctly moved.  There are a few good reasons for this.  Firstly, the two people who starred in the movie and wrote the unearthly songs are not trained actors.  Many of the scenes in the movie fell flat and failed to achieve any sort of dramatic arc.  Maybe I’m too actor-y, but this is the stuff I look for!  I’m pretty sure the book wasn’t as strong in the movie either.  The musical’s a lot funnier than the movie which in turn makes the gloomy parts sadder.  Enda Walsh, the Irish playwright who’s rewritten “Once” for the stage, has crafted a smartly sweet script that the explores what it means to not only be human (which every good script should do anyway), but a human artist (so much harder).

Ultimately, this is the story of guy meets girl, girl brings guy back to life, and maybe guy does the same for her.  The only way this show will work is if the two leads, the Guy and the Girl, are dynamite talents with charisma coming out of every pore of their beings.   Not only do these two performers need to be a impressive actors and commercially soulful singers, they also have to be magnetically attractive and play an instrument.  Luckily, the people behind Once got pretty darn close.

The Girl, played by Cristin Milioti, is simply luminous.  Her eyes, big pools of curiosity, sympathy, and silent suffering are impossible to ignore whenever she is on stage.  For you actors out there, Milioti is a master class in moment-to-moment. Every move she makes, every word that comes out of her diminutive mouth is filled with such clear intention it makes you alternatively ache and rejoice.

The Guy, played by a too-beautiful-to-be-real Steve Kazee (a distinct change from the rather rough-looking movie Guy), is a little more toned down.  Honestly, I’m glad he is.  His character is not the active one in this tale.  Instead, he’s someone who’s allowing himself to be pushed along by the current of life, having long since given up on steering his vessel.  (As a certain song will tell you about 4 times…).  Kazee played this hurt, lost man with delicacy, never pushing.  The only moments when he stole the stage from the Girl were when he let out Glen Hansard’s wounded animal roar at the height of his songs, when the walls have come down between his insecurity and his painfully brilliant genius.

I think the biggest difference between this show and the movie may have been a very personal change in me.  When I saw the movie, I was somewhere between the end of high school and my first couple years in the Musical Theatre department at the University of Michigan.  I believed in my talent, which meant I believed in myself.  I had no reason to connect to this almost-broken-down man, and I couldn’t see the incredible value of this little woman walking into his life and nurturing in his genius.  A good way into my second year out of college, believe me, I can see the value.

A month ago, I presented a reading of a show I had written about my first year in New York.  It was the scariest thing I have ever done, the first notes sung in front of a group of my peers somewhat akin to jumping out of an airplane.  After that night, I thought there was nothing I couldn’t do.  It felt like I had finally stepped into my own version of New York, like it had really become what it wanted to be.  Of course, now I have to face the real production, and I’m scared all over again.  Somewhere in the last couple years, the girl who rolled her eyes at the movie “Once” learned to fear failure.  As, the Guy says to the Girl, staring out over their city

Learning what it is to fear is the worst of all lessons.

“Once” does what I want all theatre to do.  It told me a wonderful story that left me feeling changed.   I feel inspired to stop protecting the stuff inside of me and let it out for the world to hear, even if it’s just for my own catharsis.  As the song says,

Raise your hopeful voice, you have a choice. You’ve made it known.

 

To get a different vantage point of “Once” check out the previous Watch Yo Mouth!? blog Brushing the Dust Off of the Everyday by Quinn, which covers the original movie. Though our initial opinions differ, it just goes to show how differently drama and music affect those who partake in its journey.   

 

The other night at……………… Godspell & Book of Mormon

Posted on: November 18th, 2011 by Marken Greenwood No Comments

Who says God is dead?  

With Book of Mormon and Godspell on the Great White Way and Jesus Christ Superstar looming on the horizon, Broadway’s Big Wigs certainly seem to have heaven on their minds.  Pretty soon we’re gonna have a Holy Trinity on our hands.  Oh, I could keep going…

Godspell

A couple weeks ago, I sat in some free seats at a preview of Godspell.  I thoroughly enjoyed the production, but a nice review is always so boring.  I had to think of a hook.  So, I mulled.  And then I came up with a brilliant plan.  I’ll compare Godspell and Book of Mormon with each other just for the hell…er…heck of it.

My friend who assisted on Godspell affectionately nicknamed the show “Theater Games The Musical”.  It really does come across as a college production with the addition of some extraordinary voices and some well-developed comedic bits. Don’t pay full price for a ticket, or you’re bound to feel jipped – it’s really low in the budget category adding to that hokey college feel.  However, I wasn’t disappointed.  On the contrary, I had a blast.

The troupe had the youthful exuberance of a freshman improv team with the skill and slickness of young Broadway. Add to that the director’s obvious leanings toward the Leqoc school of clowning with cleverly thought out physical comedy and offbeat characterizations and you’ve got something extremely watchable.  I couldn’t believe that they managed to wring so much quirk, character, and comedy from such dry source material as the Psalms.  (If you didn’t know – all of the lyrics from the show are taken almost verbatim from this section of the Bible.)

Book of Mormon

             

And then there’s Mormon, literally on the next block.  Beyond the religious subject matter, it couldn’t be farther from Godspell.  From the splashy Broadway set and costumes that practically scream money (or mix it, if you want to be healthy about it) to the discernible plot, it’s definitely got a few advantages over Godspell. Check out Elder Price the song “I Believe” below:

I saw the show when it was brand new.  At the time, I was grateful to have SRO seats so I could stagger backwards and pitch to and fro with laughter – my appreciation of humor can get very dangerous.   The lead, Andrew Rannels, carries the show if you can believe that.  You’d think no one would need to carry a show penned by such comedic greats as the South Park creators, but Rannels is so strong and his part so pivotal that he stands out in my mind above all others.  In Godspell, the ensemble carries the show while the leading man, Hunter Parrish, looks really pretty and sings like the lead singer of a Christian band (could this be a choice as it is slightly appropriate?).

In the end, you need to see Book of Mormon because it’s so damn good.  If you’re looking for show #2, check out Godspell – it’s a lot of fun.

GODSPELL vs. BOOK OF MORMON

Round vs. Proscenium

Small cast vs. Large cast

Poly-ethnic vs. Bi-ethnic

Respectful vs. Blasphemous

Clowning ala Jacques Leqoc vs. Clownish ala Eric Cartman

Chuckle chuckle vs. Guffaw Guffaw

Student Rush vs. Sell Your Soul

Bringin Swaggah Back…. Langella in MAN AND BOY

Posted on: November 2nd, 2011 by Patrick Fromuth No Comments


Somebody get this man another Tony…

his other three are lonely

Frank Langella returns to Broadway in a blaze of flaming financial destruction as Gregor Antonescu in MAN AND BOY. We all know – or wish we knew – that certain badass tryrant who you just can’t help but adore. Langella is THAT beast; an absolute powerhouse that carried himself – and the show – with the kind of old Broadway swaggah that is rarely seen these days. Antonescu was based on the lives of Ivar Kreuger, the Swedish Match King and Samuel Insull the Anglo-American investor.

“When Frank Langella plays good, he’s fine;

                          but when he’s bad, he’s a wonder” – NYT

The plot centers on a corrupt financier in the 1930′s whose musician son rebels against his greedy ways by becoming a socialist. Set at the height of the Great Depression, Gregor Antonescu’s business is dangerously close to crumbling. To escape the wolves at the door, Gregor tracks down his estranged son Basil in the hopes of using his Greenwich Village apartment as a base to make a company-saving deal. The tension increases as the reunion takes place. A gripping story about family, success and what we’re willing to sacrifice for both.
 

I had the privilege to see Roundabout’s production last week at the American Airlines Theatre and was surprised to find that the topical MAN AND BOY was first performed in 1963 in London at The Queen’s Theatre and in New York at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre. Despite being written almost fifty years ago, the relevance and timing of Terence Rattigan’s book to the “Occupy Wall Street” contemporary audience is smart and spot on. Take a look at what the cast has to say about the show:

With a Rick-Perry-like Ponzi Scheme front and center in this epic drama, I encourage everyone to see this classic masterpiece – aged like fine wine just like Frank…

Just Drink ‘Em In…


Occupiers on Wall Street would love to see this guy go down.

MAN AND BOY

Runs until November 27th

American Airlines Theatre

227 West 42 Street (between 7th & 8th Aves)

Ticket Services: 212.719.1300

8pm from Tuesday through Sunday

with 2pm shows on Saturdays, Sundays, and Wednesdays

Meet the Blogger ……………….. Marken Greenwood, Actress

Posted on: October 24th, 2011 by Marken Greenwood No Comments

You will soon learn that I have a little problem with lateness – See Above…

KIDDING! This little gem was a promo shot for a cabaret that Patrick and I were in during our time at Michigan with Joan Morris called, “The Morning After” – my mother is so proud. But seriously, when I make it to a show, it’s usually the closing.  When I have a deadline, I’m pulling an all nighter to meet it.  When I hear a joke, I’m laughing a few seconds after everyone else.  Not kidding – hang out with me and you’ll see.  I swear, I don’t have a learning disability; I’m just the last to cotton on to everything.

Guilty pleasures: Netflix bingeing, pretending to be a normal commuter during rush hour, Prince William fantasies, ridiculously expensive coffee, planning to exercise (but rarely doing it)

What Im About: I want to hold a mirror up to life for myself and others.  I think that theatre, literature, music and art have the power to assist us in living better, fuller, more stupendous lives.  If I were Machiavelli, I’d say it’s the most palatable way of making sure history doesn’t repeat itself.  If I were Marken, I’d say it’s a way of reaching life-altering, mind-bending, heart-wrenching catharsis which allows you to gain compassion and wisdom beyond your years.

Be great in act as you have been in thought.  ~Shakespeare

So, back to the other night.  I’m trying out a new format, or if I’m gonna go all Carrie Bradshaw on ya’ll, a column.   I’m going to reflect on the theatrical, cultural, artistic, scientific, culinary experiences of yesterday.  New York locals, you may not catch that particular event, but what I hope you’ll catch the artist next time or remember that theatre company for the future.  Nonlocals, it doesn’t matter because you can’t see it anyway!  You just get to experience it through my ultra-descriptive, artfully-crafted prose.

Favorite board game: Scrabble

Favorite 90s TV show: Buffy

Theme song to your life:  Uncharted by Sara Bareillis

Idol(s): Katherine Hepburn, Anderson Cooper, Linda Goodrich, my cousin Carolyn, Charlotte Bronte

Favorite Movie:  Gone with the Wind

Favorite Disney Movie: Beauty and the Beast

Country you would do inappropriate things to get to… Why: Norway…because it’s the land of my ancestors.

Favorite Artist: Gustav Klimt

Favorite CD: Parade by Jason Robert Brown

If you were a vegetable, what would you be and why?: Cauliflower…because no one would want to eat me.

Do you have a horse named Whisper living in Central Park?  No.

You could say I’m a Late Bird.  Remember in Kindergarten when everyone was divided into two groups the Early Birds who went to school the first half of the day and the Late Birds who went the latter half?  Well, it’s obvious which one I was and I’ve stuck to the moniker faithfully.

And now I have effectively made my lateness work for me                     Let the blogging begin!