If/Then – You will enjoy it!


I really love living in New York.
I really love working in New York City.
I especially love when Broadway Week rolls around!

I had the privilege of seeing Idina Menzel in the new broadway musical If/Then; it was excellent. It’s the story of native New Yorker and urban planner, Elizabeth, who returns to the city from NYC from Phoenix after divorcing her college sweetheart turned husband.

Elizabeth always thinks about the what ifs – what if she hadn’t moved? What if she made a different decision, would this decision have changed her life? Would her life be better or worse for it? Essentially the story branches out from one moment in the park after her return form Phoenix.

For the two paths she has two nicknames, the path where she stays with her new neighbour, Kate, in the park – the Liz path – and the path where she goes with Lucas to his protest – the Beth path. There were many quick changes in between to differentiate between Liz and Beth but if you think you’ll get easily confused trying to follow the action, listen to the music and keep track of the storyline, I would suggest reading a quick synopsis about the show before venturing to watch. This way you’ll be less confused and be able to enjoy the show. However, I found that it was really easy to follow which story you’re watching and didn’t have a problem keeping them separated in my head.

The soundtrack was good and sometimes funny. I really enjoy listening to Idina Menzel sing, and since she has such a powerful voice I was a little worried that she might stick out from the rest of the cast and it might become “Idina and the rest of them”; but LaChanze (Kate), Jenn Colella (Anne) had such powerful voices themselves and James Snyder (Josh) was a wonderful singer, that I had no reason for concern.

The set was minimalistic yet functional with bits and pieces of fresh elements – LED subway map and the home set were really great!

Overall I absolutely enjoyed it, definitely worth it if you have the time. As an added bonus, here is an article I found – Jason Tam Reveals 10 Things Fans May Not Know About If/Then.


[image from If/Then site]

Baby It’s You

Baby It’s You (showing at the Broadhurst Theater until September 4th) is a based on the true story of Florence Greenberg, creator of Sceptre Records and founder of The Shirelles – a 1960s American girl group (first to have a number one single on the Billboards Hot 100).

The story opens with Florence, a mother and housewife in New Jersey who wants to get into the music business. With help from a family friend – and much protesting from her husband – she starts Tiara Records with a four girl group her daughter, Mary Jane, found at school called the Shirelles.

The story continues, following Florence’s climb in the music industry, from her selling Tiara Record and the Shirelles’s contract to Decca Records to her founding Scepter Record and taking the Shirelles to the top with the help of her partner, singer/songwriter/producer Luther Dixon. With hit songs like Tonight’s the Night, Dedicated to the One I Love and Soldier Boy, the Shirelles hit the Billboard charts and at the height of their fame, hit number one on the charts.

There were quite a few hard relationship stories in the play; Florence’s relationship with her children – pretty strained since she was hardly at home. Her relationship with the Shirelles – who her husband said she treats better than her own daughter – and her relationship with her partner Luther, a relationship that did not remain a professional one.

The music, in the beginning it was choppy, but as the the play moved along there were some really stirring numbers. I really loved the voices of the ladies that played the Shirelles, they sounded amazing together; different than the original group – I think a different sound altogether – but still very girl group-esque.

the colourful costumes were fun! (via broadway.com)

I absolutely LOVED the costumes! Florence had a lot of dress changes and I loved pretty much all her dresses. I also loved the A-line skirts that the Shirelles wore in the beginning of the play! So fun, I wonder where I can get skirts like those! A very 50s/60s wardrobe, it was easy to see some of the influences on present day fashion.

In the beginning they projected a jukebox on the screen so that image was stuck in my head when I saw the set and the on-stage band sitting on lit tiers reminded me of a jukebox. There were four screens that served as digital backdrops; everything had a 50s/60s feel to it; definitely a fun set. With the band on-stage the show felt more like a concert, which was great because during the bows they played a couple of popular tunes, much to the audience’s joy – especially that older gentleman in the front row shimmying with the cast.

Baby It’s You isn’t a show I’d typically chose to go to, so I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved it. It’s too bad that September 4th is its last day! Thanks to my pal Evie for the cheap ticket!

Florence and The Shirelles (via broadway.com)

Unlimited; Together We’re Unlimited

I’ve always loved The Wizard of Oz. I remember seeing the movie as a child and wanting to be a part of munchkin land, or wanting to skip down the yellow brick road. So naturally, when the show Wicked came to Broadway, I had to see it. Wicked, is based on a novel of the same name, by Gregory Maguire. It’s the untold story of the Wicked Witch of the West. I attended the show on a free ticket, a lucky break. It was a great experience; I remember leaving the theater with the songs playing through my head. I got the soundtrack the very next day and played all the songs on repeat for one entire week. At Karaoke places I would sing all the Wicked songs that were available. I declared Wicked my favourite Broadway show.

This past Saturday I got a chance to attend Behind the Emerald Curtain and take a peek at how Wicked came into existence.

Our tour was lead by Jerad Bortz (ensamble and understudy for Fiyero) and Anthony Galde (swing and understudy for Fiyero, Wizard and Father). They took us through all the stages an actor experiences from audition to the stage. One of the most interesting stories was the fitting. The actor spends the day going to different shops, standing in their underwear in a room of mirrors and getting their measurements taken while being observed by a group of people who are holding clipboard and talking about their body. Intimidating? I think so.

I was blown away by the effort and detail that goes into each costume. Every single costume is custom fitted for each actor who will be portraying that role and some costumes cost thousands of dollars.

Jerad and Tony explained the behind the scene choreography that goes on with the costume changes. There is a system off stage that’s just as detailed as the dancing happening on stage. With limited time between scenes the actors have to know exactly where to go, what they are taking off or putting on and how to move along the line to change. Sometimes they do all of this while STILL singing.

The spoke in detail on the setting up of the set, the masks and the sound (mic placements), then we got to sit in the theater’s orchestra section while they showed us a short film on the making of the musical as well as the jobs of the folks in the background who keep the show running. One thing that struck me was the amount of people behind the scenes that work on the show while there is an audience watching the performance. I believe they said that there were about 100+ people working backstage to make sure each show runs smoothly, this is not including orchestra or actors.

To say that I was impressed with the effort and money it takes to put on Wicked is an understatement. I was blown away by the hard work and many hours. I thought back to the time I saw the show; when I left the auditorium I wasn’t thinking of the people doing the sound or the light, I was remembering the spectacular closing scene of Act 1. I was not wondering about the wardrobe team or the stage team, I was enjoying the look of the stage and the gear-like props that added something different to the setting of Oz. I know that the next time I see Wicked – and there will be a next time – I will probably be engrossed in the show on stage again. However, in the back of my mind I will also remember this day and I am quite sure that I will have a greater appreciation for the hard work that 100s of “invisible” people do on a daily basis to allow me to enjoy the work of art that is Wicked, the Musical.

Broadway: American Idiot

Nobody likes you. Everyone left you. They’re all out without you having fun.

The Set
The walls of the stage was plastered with newspapers and magazines. There were TV screens placed into cutouts in the backdrop and metal stairs running down the back right of the stage like a fire escape. The band was scattered about the stage and there was a violinist high up on the stairs and a cellist on the bottom. The conductor also played the piano. It reminded me a lot of the stage for Rent.

The Soundtrack
If you’ve listened to Green Day’s American Idiot, you’ve got the soundtrack.

The Show
If you don’t like being spoiled, this is where you stop reading. The show followed three boys, Johnny, Will and Tunny, from the suburbs. They plan on escaping their town and making their name in the world.
Will’s dream comes crashing down before he even leaves as he learns that his girlfriend is pregnant. Johnny and Tunny leave him and set out on their own. Will stays in the small town and turns to drugs and alcohol. He doesn’t pay attention to Heather and a few months after the baby was born she packed her back and walked out. She ended up with a man who turned out to be the man Will always wanted to be (my interpretation). Will ended up alone on his sofa.
Tunny seems depressed away from home and later enlists into the army as a way to make something out of his life. He fights in the war; he meets a girl; he loses a leg in the fighting. In the end he comes back home with the Extraordinary Girl on his arm.
Johnny stays in the big city and lives a life of drug, sex and rock and roll influenced by his alter-ego (well I think so at least)  St. Jimmy. He falls in love with a girl, but with St. Jimmy in his life the relationship suffers due to his drug addiction. Whatsername leaves him. He’s left with a choice to clean up his life or to keep going down the road he’s going. His decision leads him to an office job, while St. Jimmy commits suicide. He later sells his guitar and heads back home, frustrated that his life has not turned out the way he wanted it to be.

This show should be rated PG13. This is not a show that you want to take children or young teens to, even if they love Green Day. There was an energy flowing through the actors on stage that made you want to get up there and sing and dance with them. I left the show feeling empowered; ready to face the world.
The band was amazing! The drummer was amazing!  The finale was amazing! All I have to say in regards to the finale is that they must go through a lot of picks per show!

I would recommend this show for all fans of Green Day’s American Idiot CD, the people who liked the way Rent was done on Broadway as well as anyone who loves a good show. There’s just one thing to be aware of, the show runs 90 minutes long and there is no intermission, so head to the bathroom before you take your seat!