Sunday, April 26, 2009

"Next To Normal"

Diana's head must look like what my apartment kitchen looks like right now. Piles of dishes, a mess of a refrigerator, and sticky floors - all of which are not her fault. And not my fault either.

"Next To Normal" centers around a suburban family with issues. Not "August" issues but interesting ones none the less. The character Diana, the incendiary Alice Ripley, has mental problems. Her husband, Henry, played by J. Robert Spencer, tries to help his wife get the best medical attention (and pills) she needs. Their children are Natalie (Spring Awakening alum Jennifer Damiano) and Aaron Tveit, plays Gabe. Everything that goes on in Diana's head effects everyone around.

The show starts with a great song "Just Another Day" which shows the audience just how typical of an American family they are...until Diana starts to place bread slices on the floor, one after the other and tries to explain that she's just making sandwiches but in reality, her mental illness is shown to the audience.

She sees Dr. Madden, who prescribes her more than several pills that should help her but Diana decides in the song "I Miss the Mountains" that she wants to try living life without the medicine.

Her daughter Natalie starts seeing, Henry, a pot smoker who suddenly becomes the good influence on her, when she starts to abuse her mothers pills.

Gabe, is Diana's 17 year old son, who died when he was a baby. Yes, in her mind, she sees her song, who is not really there. In the first song, it seems like he's actually there but later in the first act, it's realized that he is just a figment of her illness. He has a great song, "I'm Alive", where he protests that he will not leave his mother's side. It's a bizarre relationship but it's the core reason why Diana acts like she does. In a chilling moment she said that when her son died, the doctor said she would be fine after 4 months but really, only 4 months is normal to get over the death of a child? And if the patient isn't fine, then pills are the next step? What kind of "guidelines" are these?

The show is not a fluffy musical being paraded by Disney. With music by Tom Kitt (High Fidelity) and lyrics and book by Brian Yorkey, this is definitely a show you do not want to miss. It's moving, thrilling, and makes you think. Go run to the Booth Theatre, Alice Ripley (your Tony nom is in the bag), will have you standing on your feet at the end.

Friday, April 24, 2009

"A Miracle Would Happen/When You Come Home"

I wish I could post lyrics and video to every song from the Last Five Year's score. But I won't. Even though every song is amazing, the character Jamie gets his say on marriage and Norbert Leo Butz doesn't fail to deliver.

Everyone tells you that the minute you get married
Every other woman in the world
Suddenly finds you attractive
Well, that's not true
It only affects the kind of women
You always wanted to sleeep with
But they wouldn't give you the time of day before
And now they're banging down your door
And falling to their knees
At least that's what it feels like because you
In fact, you can't even look at them
Close your eyes, close your eyes, close your eyes
Except you're sitting there
Eating your corned beef sandwich
And all of a sudden, this pair of breasts walks by
And smiles at you
And you're like "That's not fair!"

And in a perfect world
A miracle would happen
And every other girl would fly away
And it'd be me and Cathy,
And nothing else would matter
But it's fine, it's fine, it's fine
I mean, I'm happy
And I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine
It's not a problem
It's just a challenge
It's a challenge to resist

And I have to say that
What exacerbates the problem
Is I'm at these parties
I'm the center of attention
I'm the grand fromage
And here she comes:
"Let's get a cup of coffee.
Will you look at my manuscript?"
And I'm showing her my left hand
I'm gesticulating with my left hand
And then WHOOMP! There's Cathy!
'Cause she knows
(They always know)
And there's that really awkward moment
Where I try to show I wasn't encouraging this
(Though of course I sort of was)
And I don't want to look whipped in front of this woman
Which is dumb - I shouldn't care what she thinks
Since I can't fuck her anyway!

And in a perfect world
A miracle would happen
And every girl would look like Mister Ed
And it'd be me and Cathy
And nothing else would matter
But it's fine, it's fine, it's fine
You know I love her
And it's fine, it's fine, it's fine
It's what I wanted
And I'm fine, I'm fine, I'm fine!
It's not a problem
It's just a challenge
It's a challenge to resist

When you come home to me
I'll wear a sweeter smile
And hope that, for a while, you'll stay
When you come home to me
Your hand will touch my face
And banish any trace of gray
Soon, a love will rise anew
Even greater than the joy I felt
Just missing you
And once again, I'll be
So proud to call you "mine"
When you finally come home
To me

I'll be there soon, Cathy
I'll finish up this chapter and be out the door
I swear I'll be there soon, Cathy
Don't give up on me yet
I am so proud of you, baby
You're doing what you never got to do before
And I will be there, ripe and crawling
If fuckin' Random House stops calling
Don't lose faith
Don't get down
Don't despair
I'll be there

And in a perfect world
A miracle would happen
And that day would finally be here
And it'd be me and you
Riding it together
And the things we do
Goin' like we planned
We're gonna make it through
And nothing else will matter
We'll be fine, we're fine
We're fine, we're fine, we're fine
I'll be there soon, Cathy...
I swear I will

"I Can Do Better Than That" - I'm Obsessed.

My best friend had a little situation
At the end of our senior year
And like a shot, she and Mitchell got married that summer
Carolann getting bigger every minute
Thinking, "What am I doing here?"
While Mitchell's out every night
Being a heavy-metal drummer
They got a little cute house on a little cute street
With a crucifix on the door
Mitchell got a job at the record store in the mall
Just the typical facts of a typical life in a town on the Eastern Shore
I thought about what I wanted
It wasn't like that at all
Made Carolann a cute baby sweater
Thinking "I can do better than that"

In a year or so, I moved to the city
Thinking "What have I got to lose?"
Got a room, got a cat, and got twenty pounds thinner
Met a guy in a class I was taking who you might say
Looked like Tom Cruise
He wouldn't leave me alone 'less I went with him to dinner
And I guess he was cute
And I guess he was sweet
ANd I guess he was good in bed
I gave up my life for a better part of a year
And so I'm starting to think that this maybe might work
And the second it entered my head
He needed to take some time off
Focus on his "career"
He blew me off with a heartfelt letter
I thought "I can do better than that"

You don't have to get a haircut
You don't have to change your shoes
You don't have to like Duran Duran
Just love me

You don't have to put the seat down
You don't have to watch the news
You dont' have to learn to tango
You don't have to eat prosciutto
You don't have to change a thing
Just stay with me

I want you and you and nothing but you
Miles and piles of you
Finally I'll have something worthwhile
To think about each morning

You and you and nothing but you
No substitution will do
Nothing but fresh, undiluted and pure
Top of the line and totally mine!

I don't need any lifetime commitments
I don't need to get hitched tonight
I don't want to throw up your walls and defenses
I don't mean to put on any pressure
But I know what a thing is right
And I spend every day reconfiguring my sense
When we get to my house, take a look at that town
Take a look at how far I've gone

I will never go back
Never look back anymore
And it feels like my life led right to your side
And will keep me there from now on
Think about what you wanted
Think about what could be
Think about how I love you
Say you'll move in with me
Think of what's great about me and you
Think of the bullshit we've both been through
Think of what's past because we can do better!
We can do better!
We can do better than that!
We can do better than that!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Beauty That Is "The Last 5 Years"

Stephen Sondheim knew how to write innovative musicals. Meat pies, whistling towns, Bobby, and Maria and Tony. What is stifling new works in today's musical theatre industry? Why does writing "Generic Musical Title: A New Musical" appear to be the kiss of death on Broadway? What is it that makes theatre goers, mostly casual, not want to try out new theatre? Perhaps it's because they paid top dollar to see a beloved revival of West Side Story and they know the story already, so they figured they'd have a better time? Do audiences not want to watch challenging and compelling new works?

I guess that is why Off-Broadway is so vital to this industry. It does give opportunities for new plays and musicals to be grown both on stage and with its audiences. That leads me to the masterpiece, yes masterpiece, that is "The Last 5 Years", lyrics and music by Jason Robert Brown.

This is a show that I bought online back in the early 2000s and did not know a whole lot about it. But I guess that means I'm the type of person who loves to explore new music. When I went to Scottsdale Community College, I presented a project on Stephen Sondheim and his Broadway legacy and I touched based on how without him, works like The Last 5 Years, would probably not be possible. I believe that JRB has such a prolific voice in this industry and his ability to tell a story through his lyrics is only comparable to that of Sondheim.

So, the story of L5Y is of Cathy and Jamie, a young couple, she an actress from a small town who moves to NYC and he, a writer who makes the big time.

Simple story right?

What makes it so damn compelling is that it's told from both their perspectives, without ever communicating with eachother (except once). Also, Cathy starts her story at the end of the relationship and Jamie starts with the beginning, when he meets Cathy. Each characters take their turn telling their stories through songs, as each story progresses (degresses in Cathy's instance), we learn how the story unravels and how these two fell in and out of love. The only scene where they actually are in the same "moment" is during their wedding; the incredible song "The Next Ten Minutes."

No, that one's Jerry Seinfeld
That one's John Lennon there
No, the Dakota
The San Remo is up a few blocks
Have you been inside the Museum?
We should go
Meet the dinosaurs


Will you share your life with me
For the next ten minutes?
For the next ten minutes
We can handle that
We could watch the waves
We could watch the sky
Or just sit and wait
As the time ticks by
And if we make it till then
Can I ask you again
For another ten?

And if you in turn agree
To the next ten minutes
And the next ten minutes
Till the morning comes
Then just holding you
Might compel me to
Ask you for more
There are so many lives I want to share with you
I will never be complete until I do

I'm not always on time
Please don't expect that from me
I will be late
But if you can just wait
I will make it eventually

Not like it's in my control
Not like I'm proud of the fact
But anything other than being exactly on time
I can do

I don't know why people run
I don't know why things fall through
I don't know how anybody survives in this life
Without someone like you
I could protect and preserve
I could say no and goodbye
But why, Jamie, why?

I want to be your wife
I want to bear your child
I want to die
Knowing I
Had a long, full life in your arms
That I can do
Forever, with you

Will you share your life with me


For the next ten lifetimes?

Forever, Jamie

For a million summers

Till the world explodes
Till there's no one left
Who has ever known us apart

There are so many dreams
I need to see with you...

There are so many years
I need to be with you...

I will never be complete

I will never be alive

I will never change the world
Until I do

I do

I do

I do

I do...

Is that one John Lennon?
That's the San Remo
Isn't that the Museum?
Can we go see the dinosaurs?

The amazing Norbert Leo Butz and Sherie Rene Scott

While I've never seen a full production of this show, I know that this is one that is making the regional rounds, so, if you hear of a production in your area: go, go, go! It's art that makes you think, challenge your belief in marriage and relationships and experience life.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Never Fear

I am seeing two shows this up-coming weekend, two shows I've never seen before.

Next To Normal
April 25, 2009 2pm

April 25, 2009 8pm

So excited to see both, so I will be back soon with a detailed review of both.

And I may make a stop at HAIR too =]

Monday, April 6, 2009

Ken Davenport Has An Idea: Independent Theater Bloggers Unite

Broadway and Off-Broadway producer and savvy blogger has invited all internet bloggers who specifically write about theatre to a social at Planet Hollywood in NYC.

The details are:


Thursday, April 23rd.
6 PM - 8 PM
Planet Hollywood
Broadway at 45th St.

To RSVP, comment to Ken's blog with your name and the URL of your blog. Confirmation and final details will be emailed to you. Oh, and to qualify as a "Theater Blogger", you should:

  • Have a blog devoted primarily to theater
  • Post regularly
  • Be an independent blogger (not sponsored/paid to blog by any organization)
Not 100% sure what I'll be up to that weekend but I know attending Ken's last social in December that it will be a good time.

Also, he (or someone) has launched this suspicious looking website. Can't wait to see what he has up his sleeve.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy Opening HAIR!

Some of my favorite pics of last night's opening of the current revival of HAIR.

Broadway Marquee
I adore the expression Kacie's face (far left). So much love.
Will Swenson as Berger

Gavin Creel as Claude
Gavin Creel
Kacie Sheik * You're a Broadway star!
Kacie & Allison Case
Tony Award Winner John Gallagher Jr.
photos taken from