Street Lights, Big Dreams, All Lookin’ Pretty

Time Square. Any time I think about heading to Time Square I shudder. With so many people, it can be a daunting task for an introvert (and generally shy person) to make her way to Time Square. However, I’ve been visiting Time Square at least once a week for the past five weeks, so I decided to look at it as a tourist would. What draws people to this place? What’s so fascinating? What makes them stop suddenly on the sidewalk just to look up, causing you to walk right into them because they didn’t think about the fact that a TON of people are also trying to walk on the same pavement? I digress…

Is it the policemen on horses? Or the generally friendly New York Police who aren’t shy to pose with tourists?

Is it the bright lights and the flashy ads that all vie for your attention, each one trying to outshine the other?

Or is it the themed food places with their overpriced, yet enticing food and drinks?

    

Perhaps it’s the excitement, the talent and the wonder of a spectacular show.

I’m not sure what the reason is, or why people flock there, but my guess is that it has to do with one, or all (and then some) of the above. It’s a place that can be exciting and intimidating. A hub of activity, a place for memories, a place built on dreams.

Think of Me Fondly

My very first Broadway experience was The Phantom of the Opera. Based on a novel by Gaston Leroux (a French writer), The Phantom of the Opera was adapted for the theater by Andrew Lloyd Webber. The one thing that had been burned into my memory about Phantom was the Masquerade scene and I’ve always dreamed about a masquerade after that. Not a costume party, but a ball with elaborate masks and bright colours and it was just as I remembered it when I saw it again this month.

Next to the songs, the costumes were my favourite part of the play; they were all so fancy and beautiful and just as spectacular as the play itself. The story is always such a moving piece, a disfigured genuis living in the tunnels beneath the Opera House. A person who has never been loved before, falling for a beautiful young chorus girl and doesn’t know exactly how to express that feeling. And Christine, the beautiful young chorus girl, infatuated with her Angel of Music until she finds out that he’s the disfigured genius who lives in the tunnels beneath the Opera House. As the madness of the phantom increases with the body count, Christine finds herself protected by her childhood friend, Raoul, and a great and classical love story is born.

One of the charming things about this play is, while it has an air of seriousness about it, it does not lack humour; the diva-ish doings of Carlotta always brought a smile to my face and the comedic timing of Ubaldo left me in gales of laughter.

The Phantom of the Opera is most definitely a classic show, with its shows within a show, its wonderful costumes and its amazing score. If you find yourself in Time Square, don’t miss out on this gem!

** photo via The Phantom NY site.

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!