Tuesday, May 19, 2015

A VIEW OF BROADWAY FROM THE NORTH COAST




New York is about 500 miles from Cleveland.  Several times a year I wander forth to see the bright lights of Broadway and venture into some theatres.  This spring, during a period of a rash of show openings, I had the chance to see some excellent offerings.

Of course, seeing local talent on stages on the Big White Way adds to the excitement.  As has been the case recently, Baldwin Wallace University Music Theatre majors trod the stages.  Most prominent in the new shows is Jill Paice, who proudly states her BW affiliation in the Playbill of the smash hit AN AMERICAN IN PARIS.  Chris McCarrell, another BWU grad recently took over the role of Marius in LES MIS√ČRABLE and recent grad, Kyle Jean Baptiste has been cast as Jean Valjean’s understudy.

Here are capsule judgments of three new shows.  To read the whole review of each, go to http://www.royberkinfo.blogspot.com/, scroll down the right hand column to “Broadway Theatre,” and click on the link.

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS: A New Musical, is a gorgeous symphony of dance, song, sets and graphics.  From its opening expository dance sequence, to the enveloping concluding ballet, it seamlessly unfolds as a visually compelling production that is breathtaking to watch.

Capsule judgement:  AN AMERICAN IN PARIS, A New Musical, is a visual, dance-driven Broadway story-telling creation that is gorgeous, enchanting, seamless and sophisticated.   It is a tribute not only to the music of George and Ira Gershwin, but to the genius of director Christopher Wheeldon, and the performance abilities of a stellar cast.

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS:  A New Musical, is being performed in an open run, at The Palace Theatre, 1564 Broadway, New York

HAND TO GOD

Tyrone is evil.  Tyrone, he of big, vacant eyes is both disturbing and funny.  Tyrone is vile, violent and demonic.  Tyrone is raunchy.   Tyrone is foul-mouthed.

Tyrone is a sock puppet who is the anti-hero of Robert Askins’ HAND TO GOD, a Broadway play that causes convulsive laughter while terrifying.

Capsule judgement:  HAND TO GOD is a compelling tale of two lost people, caught up in their own lack of ability to cope with the death of a major person in their lives, who are losing their fight to chart a course of healthy reality and turn to escapism to get through the angst.  The production is well conceived and performed and makes for a fascinating theatrical experience in which laughter acts as an escape from pain.

HAND TO GOD  is being performed in an open-ended run at the Booth Theatre, 22 West 45thStreet, New York.

SOMETHING ROTTEN

From its opening, the creative “Welcome to the Renaissance,” to the “Finale,” Broadway newbie book writers, Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell, and music and lyric conceivers, Wayne Kirkpatrick and Karey Kirkpatrick, create laugh out-loud farcical material.

It’s classical theatre gone awry, complete with show-stoppers, encore after encore (whether the audience wants them or not), ridiculous sight gags, double entendres, sexual allusions, and male costumes with huge cod pieces.

Capsule judgment:  SOMETHING ROTTEN is a rare theatrical event…a wonderful musical farce.  Anyone who wants to go to the theatre and have a great time, unburdened by a complicated plot, listen to fun lyrics, and experience two acts of non-stop laughter…this “very new musical” should be their play of choice!  

SOMETHING ROTTEN is in an open run at the St. James Theatre, 26 West 44th Street, New York