From B to Z: Catching Up with Bryce Pinkham


, , ,

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 9.22.09 PM

It’s been a busy year… for Broadway star Bryce Pinkham, and there’s no stopping him now. After performing in two different Broadway shows (A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and The Heidi Chronicles) this past year and garnering multiple nominations for his performances, I was lucky enough to catch up with him just after he received his second Outer Critic’s Circle Award nomination and his first Drama League nomination for Distinguished Performance.

Although he was nominated last season for Gentleman’s Guide, Pinkham was quick to note that the nominations haven’t lost their magic yet. In fact, he equated his back-to-back nominations to entering a “weird Twilight Zone.” While excited, he admitted that it feels a little different for him this time around, less stressful. This comes as no surprise, considering the stark contrast between the two works—one an energetic comedic musical, the other a heavy, feminist play. Still, Pinkham embraced the demanding challenges seemingly effortlessly. His role in Gentleman’s Guide as the murderous, unsuspecting social climber Monty Navarro was well received (earning him his first Tony nomination), so it came as quite the shock when his January departure was announced. “People forget,” Pinkham detailed. “We opened in October, so it’s not like I left right away.” At the time of his departure, he’d been in the show for a year and four months.

That’s quite a substantial run, not to mention the fact that Gentleman’s Guide is a two and a half hour-long sprint in a three-piece suit. “When you are onstage the entire time in a musical and losing a gallon of sweat a night, it wears on you,” he recounted. “My body and my voice needed a break.”

Even so, Pinkham was quite the trouper—known as “Iron Man” among those working on the show because he never missed a performance. He wasn’t about to run off for just any show; the timing would have to be just right, as he didn’t want to cut his journey as Monty short.

“I knew I wasn’t going to take that  break until something came along and the right project came along to take me away,” he said. The change would mean an opportunity to do something different, and he was ready for it. “Heidi Chronicles presented itself as that project and it made all the sense in the world for me to pass the torch of Monty Navarro down to somebody else for a while so that I could go stretch some different acting muscles. I wanted to show people that I can do more than just musical theater.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 9.23.05 PM

Pinkham in his first scene with Elisabeth Moss

In terms of style and character, his role in The Heidi Chronicles is a major departure from the merry musical. One of Wendy Wasserstein’s most famous works, the semi-autobiographical play chronicles the story of Heidi Holland, an art historian, from high school in the late sixties through her career in 1989, taking a close look at the challenges that she and her friends face as they mature.

Under the accomplished direction of Tony award-winning Pam MacKinnon (Who’s Afraid of Virginia Wolf), this spring’s production of Heidi is the first Broadway revival of any of Wasserstein’s works. For Pinkham, this was a dream come true.

“I’ve wanted to work with Pam MacKinnon for a while,” he said. “I make lists of people I want to work with. It’s not like I write them down and put them on the fridge, but I have a list of directors that I want to work with at some point, and Pam Mackinnon was high on that list.”

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 9.23.25 PM

Pinkham as Peter Patrone

Pinkham is joined by a star-studded cast: Elisabeth Moss (Mad Men) in the titular role and Jason Biggs (Orange is the New Black, American Pie) as the abrasive but charismatic Scoop Rosenbaum. Pinkham is taking on the role of pediatrician, Peter Patrone, one of Heidi’s best friends. Though nothing new nowadays, Peter sparked quite the conversation back in the 1980s, before it was cool to have a gay best friend.

“I didn’t know at the time, but Wendy wrote Peter Patrone based on a few of her best friends and she kind of gave her best friends some of the best stuff to do in the show,” Pinkham said of his role as Peter, describing it as a wonderful part. “He is just so loved, not only by Heidi,  but also the audience just seems to love him, and I’m very lucky that I get to do that role every night. He’s such a witty, clever, funny guy, but also with a deep sensitivity and compassion for others—it’s a great role.”

Speaking of deep, the play tackles some powerful and demanding themes, many of which are still substantial questions now, twenty-six years after Wasserstein wrote it.  Focusing primarily on the feminist movement, Wasserstein’s work deals with the choices that many women, and men, are forced to make when balancing work and family. It’s not an easy job, but Wasserstein’s writing delivers the subject matter with a delicate but precise hand.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 9.23.44 PM

Pinkham and Moss in a particularly tense scene between Peter and Heidi

Pinkham, however, dug further beneath the surface to find a deeper meaning in the play. “I think it’s actually a mistake to label the play a ‘feminist play’ because it’s so much more than the feminist movement, which Heidi gets caught up in,” he explained. “I think it’s about friends growing through time together and the challenges that they face in keeping each other important in their lives. I think it’s about people who make choices and then look back at those choices and evaluate what those choices did for them.”

He even admitted to a bit of a change in his own perspective, noting that he previously commended the show for it’s female playwright, director, and star. Working on the play made him realize that “It’s also just a really good playwright, a really good director, and a really good leading lady.” Therein lies the heart of the show, exactly what Wendy Wasserstein wanted her  audience to see. “I think Wendy had no interest in being labeled as a female playwright,” he noted thoughtfully. “She wanted to have all the chances that every other person should have to be a playwright on Broadway. She had to do a lot of good work to get herself there, and I believe that others, be they male or any other version of our species should be allowed to fulfill that potential if they have the talent.”

Following in the footsteps of Wasserstein, Pinkham, a self-proclaimed “humanist,” understands the challenges that can come with the struggle to create equilibrium between career and family. He keenly feels the warring emotions that Wasserstein was trying to evoke and investigate through Heidi on a personal level, and lamented that acting is just like any other career.

“In order to progress to a place you want to be professionally, there’s always gonna be sacrifices on a personal level, just in terms of the amount of time you can devote to creating a little nest,” he said. It’s a real issue that hits home for many people, possibly more so now that it seems to affect both men and women. He believes that “this play has made every one who’s seen it and every one who’s worked on it [think] about these very issues.”

On a lighter note, when asked about where he sees himself in five to ten years, Pinkham was much more playful. After mumbling his way through his age, figuring that in five years he’ll be “thirty-grumble” and in ten years he’ll be “forty-grumble,” he ultimately came to a rather simple conclusion. “I think in five years I’ll have a dog. How about that?” He laughed. “And in the next ten years, maybe I’ll add a human life I can be responsible for.”

Professionally, he hopes to move his acting to the screen in the next ten years. “I’d like to get in front of more cameras and do some more on-camera acting, just to get some better practice at it, because I’ve spent time on stage and I feel like I’ve gotten a chance to get much better in that regard,” he said. Much like with his recent change-up, he’d like to give something else a shot. “I’d really like to spend some time getting to know different media as well. I’d like the chance to try something else and open those doors as well. So hopefully in ten years I’ll have done that and can look back on ten years of trying to improve that skill set.”

The much more imminent, post-Heidi future is also a little hazy. “I don’t know precisely,” he responded when asked what was next. “I’m a big believer in crossing bridges when you get to them and not before. I’ve sort of given up trying to worry too much about those things and just concern myself with going in and doing the best I can each night for that audience. I guess the short answer is ‘I don’t know.’” His long answer is a bit more complicated, though he did say that he felt his “time at Gentleman’s Guide is not necessarily finished.” Still, he decided that it was best not to make any presumptions about the future of Gentleman’s Guide and whether or not their timeline would allow for his return.

Fortunately, Pinkham seems to have a pretty laid-back attitude and is open to new things. In an ideal world, he said, he would be able to do both Gentleman’s Guide and something new.  Whether play or musical, he doesn’t have a preference. “I would like a career that allows me to do many things,” Pinkham explained.  “In order to get that, I felt the need to branch out and show people that I can be in plays on Broadway, too.”

After recounting the three jobs that he worked before acting (an English tutor, a waiter, and a children’s soccer coach), he noted that it was all “an extremely humbling experience and it will motivate you to find work as an actor because you never want to go back.” Much more importantly, however, his love for helping others is evident.

Screen Shot 2015-05-14 at 9.24.01 PM

Pinkham working with Zara Aina in Madagascar

“I would probably find some way to teach. I love being in the classroom,” he replied when asked what he would be doing if he weren’t acting. “I love teaching students, whether they’re acting students or students of another discipline. I enjoy the conversations that come up in a classroom.” Additionally, he has a passion  for helping preserve the environment, saying that he would want something that would make him feel “like [he] was on the front lines of trying to save this big blue planet we live on.”

Pinkham, who started acting during his youth in northern California, has a deep love for helping children through theater. “I’d probably be working for a not-for-profit with kids,” he continued with my question. “I have this organization that I co-founded to help kids in Madagascar (Zara Aina). If I wasn’t [sic] also trying to continue my acting career, I’d probably be doing that full-time.” The non-profit is designed to help at-risk children reach their full potential through the dramatic arts.  “I derive great joy from helping people and from using theater as a tool of empowerment,” he said. ”I know that was a long answer to a short question, but you know, somewhere in there you’ll find the answer.”

That I did, Mr. Pinkham. That I did.

Subsequent to our interview, The Heidi Chronicles announced that they would be closing on May 3rd.


(Unfortunately, WordPress doesn’t like PDFs, but if you’d like to see the beautiful layout [with personalized Giants colors… :P] that this article was meant to be read in, I’ve attached it here:BP-final. I promise it’s much prettier.)


A Post-Sophomore Year Reflection

Holy moly, where did this year go? As I sit cross-legged in the middle of my bed at home (in California! Wasn’t I in NY two minutes ago? Yikes!) to write this, I find myself absolutely flabbergasted. I’m pretty sure it was still August, last time I checked. If I look at my clock, it tells me that it’s actually Thursday and it’s May. One of us must be wrong and it’s definitely not me.

No, seriously. I swear that I was just packing up to head back to NYC. And yet, here I am…

Don’t get me wrong: it’s been one heck of a ride this year. From Aladdin to Hedwig (that post is coming up shortly…), I’ve had the most amazing year ever, but I feel like it all happened in the blink of an eye.

Good God, is this what getting old feels like? Because I don’t want to be old. Please, God, don’t let me be halfway through undergrad. Maybe it’s just a very long dream…

Nope. I pinched myself and I’m still here, so I’m afraid not. But that’s okay. I’m glad it wasn’t a dream.

So many wonderful things happened this year, and I know I’m going to forget something, but this is just a nice way of recapping what doesn’t get put on the blog. This one goes out to all the family and friends who actually read my ramblings. Here we go…

The Broadway Flea Market marks our friendship anniversary

Most importantly, this year, Carolyn and I celebrated a year of friendship. (I feel like that’s too shallow of a word though. If you’re reading this, Texas, and you think of a better word for us, let me know…) We also officially became roommates and I moved in with my most favorite people on the planet. (Read: Kitty, Princess, Sophia, Kelley, and Texas: I love you, you ninnies.)

10H had many great visitors this year, including Kayden and Sylvana, who took to NYC like fishes to water. Kayden, you were a part of 10H long before entering McMahon—you have most certainly found your people.

I don’t know why, but I love this shot.

Sylvana, you have no idea how lonely it was after you left. It’s amazing what a week can do. I think I can speak for everyone when I say that we love you both dearly.

Donna, too, came to visit on her annual trip up north. Naturally, we Broadway-ed all weekend long and I introduced her to the wonders of GGLAM and revisited Les Miz. I’m already plotting our October rendezvous.

Venturing away from the theater, we went to our first PaleyFest. As soon as we found out that “Hannibal” was going to have a panel, Carolyn and I decided that there was no way we could pass up the chance to be in the same room as Hugh Dancy. (For the record: he is just as lovely as you’d expect.) The rest of that experience, however, is “something we don’t talk about.” 😉

We were this close to Hugh Dancy. We don’t like to talk about it.

What else happened…? Ah, yes! We recorded our first CD for the Fordham University Choir Department. I still laugh about this because Carolyn pictured something much different from our university church predicament. On the bright side, it helped raise money for the Ireland trip. (Not that Women’s Choir was invited, but that’s a story for another time.) Also, choir director Stephen Fox remains the absolute light of our lives. May God bless him.

Stephen being an amazing director during recording

Other fun stuff that happened:

  • I attended my first Yankees game (What is wrong with the American League? Why are there no names on the back of jerseys? How am I supposed to know who’s who without knowing the team? Go Dodgers!) 
  • I spent my first Thanksgiving away from home. Special thanks to Aunt Kristi and Uncle Roger for taking me in! (Also, thanks for the pink hair, Kristi!!!)
  • Carolyn, Mike and I (also known as 3-HA Productions) won 2nd place in Fordham’s Got Talent with our rendition of “I’ve Decided to Marry You.”

    Our re-staging of the signature pose

  • 10H took a trip to Coney Island for the first time on Easter Sunday (Warning: the swinging gondolas on the Wonder Wheel are not for the faint of heart!)

    Ferris wheel selfie!

  • We survived “Stormageddon” (aka the storm of the century that never actually happened).

    So cold, so cute

  • I won the RHA’s Ugly Christmas Sweater contest. I’d like to thank my mother for supplying both of my hideous sweaters. They are absolute atrocities and will never see the light of day outside of December.

Sophomore year went especially well. I knocked out some more of the liberal arts core requirements (I got a B in that blasted science class!) and started to delve into my major. About that major, by the way… I finally declared in Communications and Media Studies, with a concentration in Journalism, and a minor in English, with a concentration in creative writing.

And speaking of journalism… I took the most amazing class this year. Theater Journalism taught by (*cough*my idol*cough*) New York 1’s Frank DiLella. Professor DiLella was the greatest—I learned so much from him, not only about theater but also about myself and what direction I’d like to head in. As of right now, I think the safer route is publicity (future press agent extraordinaire?), though I might like to keep my journalistic options open.

I realized, as I was composing my Bryce Pinkham article, that I really enjoy writing, reporting, creating, whatever you want to call it. There’s just something about getting the facts down that feels right, and at the end of the day, people don’t just need the facts, they need the truth. I suppose the truth of the matter is that I don’t really know which end of the press spectrum I’ll end up on, but I’m totally okay with figuring it out as I go along.

What’s that you say? I skipped something? I can’t hear you over the sound of my typing… Oh. About that article… If somebody at the beginning of the semester (or even in August) told me that one of my journalistic dreams was going to come true this year, I probably would have guffawed. Loud, hiccupy, hysterical, unbelieving laughs: that’s what would have happened.

But it did happen. And it was, well, AWESOME. Honestly, it was just one of those things that I figured, “well, if I don’t do it now, who knows when I will? Besides, what have I got to lose?” Somehow, by some alignment of the stars, everything worked out, and I’m so very glad and grateful (and insert pretty much any other positive adjective) that it did.

Mr. Pinkham, if this ever, for whatever reason, somehow makes it to your eyes, know that I have no words to describe the deep gratitude that I feel. Thank you for making me feel like a real journalist and allowing me this amazing opportunity.

(Now everyone better go check out my next post so you can read this article that I worked so hard on. I apologize for being so cagey about what was going on, but now everyone knows! Whoo-hoo!)

To end on a nice high note, thank you to everyone who believed in me this year, especially through that last half. (Oh, no. Here comes my award speech…) Thanks to my parents for their unwavering and unconditional love and support. And for not laughing because they thought I was joking when I called to tell them that I’d booked the interview.

Thanks to Carolyn for, both physically and metaphorically, holding my hand when the going got tough, and to the rest of my roommates (including the honorary ones: Mackenzie, Mike ❤ , Melina, Matt, Laura, and Marissa) for putting up with my anxious tendencies about “the thing” and everything else in between.

Missing a few people, but I love this picture so much.

Lastly, thanks to Fordham and NYC for another incredible year. I can’t wait to see what the next one brings! Miss you already; see you in August!


Stay tuned for a few last Broadway posts and some LA theater stuff! 🙂

Revisiting the 90s with Clinton: The Musical


, , ,

It’s the twenty-first century: of course there could be a woman in the Oval Office! Not that it would be the first time, according to the cheeky off-Broadway hit Clinton: The Musical. Throwing it all the way back to the Clinton administration of the 90s, complete with slightly outrageous artwork, this one is sure to give you a history lesson you won’t find in any textbook.

This art deserves an award.

Although the plot mostly focuses on the two scandal-infested terms of Bill Clinton, the real star of the show is Hilary, telling the story of her “first presidency.” It might be a little corny, but the line sets up the tone for the rest of the show’s witty zingers. Australian brothers Paul and Michael Hodge strung together an indecently funny book, hitting all the bases from Whitewater to a failed attempt at universal healthcare and beyond—no skeleton is left behind, here.

Thanks to Melina for reminding me to take this shot.

Speaking of skeletons in the closet, Lewinsky-gate doesn’t just get a mention, but an entire subplot. This is pulled off in a slightly confusing but clever way, as the 42nd president is portrayed with split, dueling personalities (only Hilary can see both). There’s the polished and straight-laced WJ Clinton (Tom Galantich) and the laidback, insatiable Billy Clinton (Duke Lafoon), fighting for control of the presidency, along with the quick and seemingly resilient Hilary (Kerry Butler). At first, it seems like America got a three-for-one special with Clinton’s election, but things quickly start to go awry between the three, starting with the exposition of Whitewater and escalating when Billy gets involved with the infamous intern, Monica Lewinsky (Veronica J. Kuehn).

The set is awesome!

Among the Clintons’ political adversaries plotting to take them down, is special prosecutor Kenneth Starr (Kevin Zak) teaming up with the bumbling Newt Gingrich (John Treacy Egan). Together, the hilarious duo schemes with Linda Tripp (Judy Gold) to expose Clinton’s trysts with Lewinsky, though their plans foiled by the Clinton trio.

Can’t miss that presidential seal…

The stellar cast makes excellent use of just ninety-five minutes to tell their hilarious story. Once you wrap your head around the two Clintons, Galantich and Lafoon are distinctive and amusing in their respective Bills. Butler is everything that you could want and expect from Hilary—unbreakably determined and just a bit peculiar. Kuehn is just as remarkable. Though I’ll refrain from writing out the lyrics to her catchy tune in “Monica’s Song” (My mother would be appalled if I did, but way to go, Paul Hodge!), I guarantee you’ll walk out of the theater humming it softly to yourself. (In my case, my roommates got a live re-cap the second I walked into the apartment… Sorry, I’m not sorry). The real scene-stealer, however, was Zak as Kenneth Starr. Deliciously maniacal and creepily sex-crazed, this is one that nobody will forget any time soon.

This might be my neew favorite thing on 50th St.

With a charming rotating set by Beowulf Boritt, director Dan Knechtges makes this one worth your while. It’s incredibly unlikely that we’ll ever find the show’s real-life subjects in the audience, but for everyone else that loves political satire (and musicals!), it’s a great laugh at their expense. You can catch this one through September 6th at New World Stages.

A Little Less Pixie Dust, A Little More Creativity: Finding Neverland on Broadway


, , , , ,

Second star to the right and straight on ’til Broadway, right? Maybe not. When you’re working with a classic story like Peter Pan, or with Harvey Weinstein for that matter, it’s best to tread lightly. That is not to say that Finding Neverland is any less magical than it was intended to be, just that it could have been so much more.

Such a great design!

The story (originally a play by Alan Knee and then a Miramax movie in 2004), based on the life of author J.M. Barrie and his inspiration (through the Llewelen-Davies children) for writing what is unquestionably his most famous work, is charming enough. James Graham’s book meanders like a pinball, bouncing from light and humorous to deeply touching, though is nothing particularly remarkable. It pretty much mirrors the movie, which begs the question of whether or not this needed to become a musical in the first place… Composers Gary Barlow and Elliot Kennedy’s work is a bit confusing; it’s not every day you find a pop-rock style song sung in Edwardian England. It doesn’t help that, for the most part, there is no memorable tune. I might have left with a fragment or two stuck in my head, something about closing your eyes or another, but nothing concretely outstanding.

My brain cannot process Mr. Schue with a beard.

Director Diane Paulus has an adequate cast to work with—Matthew Morrison, Kelsey Grammar, Carolee Carmello, and Laura Michelle Kelly make a decent team. Morrison, taking over J.M. Barrie after Jeremy Jordan originated the role during the show’s Boston run, is a fine leading man, although his accent could use some work. When he sings, it’s either half present or nonexistent: pick one, you can’t have both. Mr. Grammar, though amusing enough, does not appear to be fully invested in the role of American producer, Charles Frohman. Ms. Carmello is adequate, if not a bit restrained as Mrs. Du Maurier. Ms. Kelly, on the other hand, is lovely and touching as Sylvia Llewelyn-Davies. Unfortunately, a bit underused, however.


Thanks for the über close shot, Carolyn…

If there’s one thing that cannot go unmentioned, however, it’s the fact that this might be one of the most visually stunning shows that I’ve ever seen. From the very opening, when a tiny ball of light goes whizzing through the audience, to the act one finale with it’s full-on ship, to the high-flying finale, it’s all just absolutely beautiful. I mean, if Peter Pan (played by Melanie Moore, who is technically still a Fordham Ram…) is going to fly across the stage, and Tinkerbell makes an appearance, I’m pretty much sold. In terms of special effects, this production just went above and beyond any and all of my expectations. Scenic designer Scott Pask, along with projectionist John Driscoll, lighting designer Kenneth Posner, and a team of people on a myriad of effects subcategories including “air sculpture” and “flying effects,” positively blow the audience away. Though I have no doubt that the glitter must be an absolute mess to deal with, Ms. Kelly’s send-off is breath-taking. Still, I couldn’t help but feel like all of the effects were just a distraction from the rest of the work. If you give ’em a spectacle of pixie dust, they’ll overlook mediocrity.

A final note of caution: this is not a children’s show. It’s understandable that people would see the marquee and immediately associate it with the children’s story, but it is not, in my opinion, suitable for children. Although perfectly light at times, it also brings up some darker themes, many of which are entirely likely to go over the heads of children. That being said, if you’ve got a particularly mature youth, who am I to stop you?

Hide Your Kids, Hide Your Wives Because Tyrone is in Town


, , ,

If you’re someone that has an innate distrust for toys, maybe you should skip this one… Personally, I have a fear of clowns, but after seeing Robert Askin’s Hand to God, I think I’ll add sock puppets to my list.

Look at how innocent we were…

Hand to God tells the story of Jason (Steven Boyer), a painfully shy teenager, still quietly suffering after the sudden death of his father. His mother, Margery (Geneva Carr), in attempt to distract both herself and her son, takes on the puppet ministry for their church. The group is small, only two other ill-prepared members show up to the opening meeting, but nothing could possibly prepare the sleepy little church-town of Cypress, Texas for the demonic entity that is Jason’s puppet, Tyrone (an innocent looking sock puppet with soulless button eyes, an argyle vest, and a shock of red hair).

Jason’s pent-up anger and teen angst seem to be the root of his problem and the source of Tyrone’s terrifying power. It doesn’t help that Pastor Greg (Marc Kudisch) starts to make a move on his mother and can’t seem to take “no” for an answer. Further complicating things are Jason’s classmates, Jessica (Sarah Stiles), who Jason has a massive crush on, and Timothy (Michael Oberholtzer). We see one of Tyrone’s first outbursts after Jason tries to impress Jessica, though, not surprisingly, it doesn’t end well. The puppet’s angry, foul-mouthed upsurges only become more frequent and aggressive; Tyrone is menacing and out for blood. Jason tries to tell his mother, but she refuses to listen—a warning that, in hindsight, would have been wise to heed. I won’t spoil it all for you, but the battle of wills between Tyrone and Jason is as touching and emotional as it is hilarious and deeply terrifying.

Steven Boyer’s performance is utterly mesmerizing—at times I forget that he’s playing both Jason and Tyrone. The stark contrast between the characters makes it easy to forget that Boyer’s mouth is even moving. Geneva Carr is moving, Margery’s emotional repression making her story all the more interesting. Michael Oberholtzer, too, is wonderfully disruptive, playing the character with the necessary recklessness for the troubled Timothy.

The play is impressive—I wasn’t sure if I was more in love with or I terrified of it, but I think that’s what Askins does best. He makes us take a closer look at the things that we find to be the most terrifying, juggling heavy the themes of death, depression, sexual repression, and just plain evil. At the very least, he’ll make you think twice about putting on a sock puppet.

We’ll definitely be back…

On a side note, Carolyn and I were so “scarified” (that’s “scared” and “terrified” in one word… Her word, not mine.) after seeing it, that we slept with the blinds open. Beware of Tyrone.

And… Something New, Borrowed, & Blue: It Shoulda Been You


, , , , , , , ,

When you’ve got a Jewish bride, a Catholic groom, an overly-attached ex-boyfriend, a possibly psychic wedding planner and two meddling mothers, it’s easy to assume that you know where It Shoulda Been You is going to take you—it’s been done a million times. Luckily, the musical takes an unexpected turn for the better, making it one of the season’s most charming productions.

Making his Broadway directorial debut, David Hyde Pierce expertly guides an incredibly talented cast through the farcical story. Though there’s nothing particularly remarkable about the story itself, book and lyrics by Brian Hargrove and music by Barbara Anselmi, in the hands of comedic experts, like Tyne Daly and Harriet Harris, the otherwise averagely funny lines become hilarious.

The plot centers around the impending nuptials of Rebecca, the lovely though underused Sierra Boggess, and Brian, played by David Burtka. Of course, it isn’t a wedding without familial shenanigans, enter Tyne Daly as the bride’s bulldozer mother and Harriet Harris as the groom’s alcoholic mother.

One of our roommates, Kitty, with Sierra!

For their part as the dueling matriarchs, Daly and Harris are just as wonderful as to be expected, both shedding the stereotypes attached to their characters by the end of the show. Wedding planning team Edward Hibbart, Anne L. Nathan, and Adam Heller are deliciously outrageous. Nick Spangler and Montego Glover as the best man and maid of honor, respectively, and…er, close friends of the newlyweds give relatively subdued performances, though this can be attributed to the preservation of the big plot-twist that completely changes the direction of the show.

Carolyn was seriously fangirling over Montego Glover

It is Lisa Howard, however, as the bride’s older, “big-boned” sister that proves to be the star of the show. Her shining moment in “Jenny’s Blues” truly sets her apart, her strong belt and charming demeanor tugging at your heartstrings. Also standing out is Josh Grisetti as the bride’s sweet though slightly neurotic ex-boyfriend. From his surprise entrance to the happy ending, Grisetti is adorably charismatic in his long-overdue Broadway debut.

Sure, the story is nothing new, even with the twist, and the jokes are cheesy and generally schmaltzy, but the show is endearing. Even with all the cheese and schmaltz, the actors know how to extract a laugh from the audience—so it’s totally okay if you do find yourself actually laughing. Although it’s not the best in this season’s line up, it will definitely satisfy the “guilty pleasure” category.

Something (Not So) Rotten!


, , , ,

Well, it’s a musical! No, really, it’s a great musical.

I was lucky enough to snag two tickets to the first preview for $15.95 each. Though I waited too long and didn’t purchase them until the end of winter break, the balcony wasn’t the worst place in the world. Plus, once I heard that Christian Borle was going to be in it, I knew that I’d be seeing this more than once.

The view from the rush seats isn’t too bad.

The show is reminiscent of The Book of Mormon, and Spamalot in terms of humor. Focusing around brothers Nick and Nigel Bottom (Brian D’Arcy James and John Cariani) and their rivalry with The Bard (Christian Borle), the show makes quick work of poking some humor at nearly every musical ever written. This coming after Nostradamus (Brad Oscar), advises Nick Bottom on how to best the sneaky Bard. Also notable are Heidi Blickenstaff as Bea, Nigel’s feminist wife, and Brooks Ashmanskas as the disapprovingly hilarious puritan, Brother Jeremiah.

Brian D’Arcy James is the coolest dude.

It’s incredibly silly, shameless in its humor, but just oh-so very entertaining. Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick, along with John O’Farrell certainly knew how to combine a truckload of Shakespeare references with a mountain of puns and double-entendres to an outrageously comedic production.

Borle! He’s such a wonderful Bard.

Some might say that it gets to be too much, and at times, it certainly does dance right along the line, but that fearlessness really seems to give it all the more spark. Director-Choreographer Casey Nicholaw expertly ups the ante, especially with the show-stopping “It’s a Musical” number—bringing the crowd to its feet about halfway through the first act. Gregg Barnes’ costumes are both beautiful and hysterical all at once. Suffice it to say that oversized codpieces and breakfast-themed outfits might just be my new favorite costumes on Broadway.

Absolutely do not miss this one. Something tells me it’s going to be a hit…

Something Wonderful: Lincoln Center Theater’s The King and I


, , , , ,

All of my childhood dreams have come true! Well, sort of. I have fond memories of watching the movie and absolutely loving “Shall We Dance” as a child. The King and I is just one of those timeless shows that all children should grow up on.

The King and I tells the story of Anna Leonowens, an English schoolteacher, who travels to Siam with her young son to serve as the governess to the king’s many children. Though tense at first, Anna and the King learn many lessons from each other, etc., etc., etc. 😉

If I may be so bold, Kelli O’Hara is an absolute dream as Anna. Her voice is perfect for it and the part just suits her kind demeanor. She seems right at home in the role, as though it was meant for her. Ken Watanabe (though physically suiting the role) is, unfortunately, unintelligible. I spent a solid four years studying Japanese, so I like to think that I’m familiar with the accent, but if I think I was lucky if I was able to pick up maybe half of what he said. (Recent reports show that his diction has improved…) Also standing out were Ruthie Ann Miles as Lady Thiang and Ashley Park as Tuptim.

While the set design was a bit disappointing after the big opening (the ship is amazing), the costumes were every bit as magnificent as I was expecting. Catherine Zuber did an outstanding job not only with the children’s costumes, but also with Anna’s dresses. Her purple gown for “Shall We Dance” is exquisite and the richness of the colors on all of the royal court’s costumes are divine, making it a visually pleasing show.

Christopher Gattelli did a beautiful job with the choreography, and, boy, can those kids dance! Speaking of the kids, Jon Viktor Corpuz makes a wonderful Prince Chulalongkorn.

I was very excited about it.

Touching, tragic, and comic, this production is one of the most beautiful that I’ve seen in a while. Fans of this classic will not be disappointed.

Full Steam Ahead with The RTC’s On the Twentieth Century


, , , ,

If there was ever someone born to play the role of Lily Garland, it’s Kristin Chenoweth. My goodness, she is utterly spectacular in the role.

Considering that HipTix are pretty much sold out for The Roundabout Theatre Company’s On the Twentieth Century, I was super excited that my school got us group tickets. Though it was still in previews and Peter Gallagher was out, it was just stupendous.

While the show is funny—combining operetta, farce and slapstick comedy—it’s not my absolute favorite. Massive egos, a religious nut, and bumbling sidekicks keep the musical comedy on its tracks, so to speak. The cast overall is wonderful, all complimenting each other nicely. Mary Louise Wilson is a riot as Ms. Primrose and Andy Karl makes great arm-candy for Chenoweth.

Still, the star and the reason everyone should be seeing this show is, simply, Kristin Chenoweth. Talk about a role that was practically made for her. She’s said before that Lily Garland is a role that she’s wanted to play for a really long time, so this is very much a dream come true for her. Vocally speaking, she’s bringing her A-game for this one. She is absolutely brilliant. For someone that has vivid middle school memories of listening to the Wicked cast recording on repeat, watching her perform live was a dream come true.

The set also deserves a nice nod of appreciation. David Rockwell has worked wonders, the on stage train is so much more than what I expected and I’m so glad that it is. The costuming by William Ivey Long doesn’t fall too far behind, either. Keep an eye out for those two come Tony season…

Ben Scheuer’s ‘The Lion’ Roars Off-Broadway


, ,

If you don’t want to cry your eyes out, then The Lion is most definitely not the show for you. Granted, I didn’t know that going in, but I’m telling you now, so fair warning.

We didn’t really have big plans or anything for Valentine’s Day, so I entered the TodayTix lottery on a whim—I figured, why not? I guess I got lucky and I ended up winning a pair of tickets to see the show that night. For $10 a ticket, I wasn’t going to complain.

Not that complaining would have been necessary, because the show was amazing. I didn’t really know what to expect when going into it, but I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised.

I thought to myself, “Okay, so this is a one man show about this dude’s life. It’s just him and his guitar up there. How interesting could this possibly be?” Boy, was I wrong.

The Lion is the autobiographical story of Benjamin Scheuer’s life, starting from the time that he got his first guitar (“Cookie-Tin Banjo”) up until recent events. It’s a seventy minute long emotional roller coaster that takes you through moments as deep as darkest depths of personal loss to the soaring highs of that first love.

Scheuer uses a variety of his guitars, moving around a simplistic yet charming set to tell his story. The Lynn Redgrave Theater is an intimate venue, perfect for such a deeply personal story. His voice is light but strong, well suited for his mostly relaxed songs.

I wouldn’t mind a recording of the show, though you can get “Cookie-Tin Banjo” on iTunes and some the other songs can be found on Vimeo and YouTube. Scheuer’s writing is simple, but deep—it strikes emotional chords within me that I cannot put to words. (Read: I told myself that I wasn’t allowed to weep openly, but if I had less conviction, I’d have been bawling my eyes out.)

Honestly, this show is just so underappreciated and I wish that more people knew about it so that they can see it during its limited run. If you’re considering this show at all, I can’t recommend it enough. This little Off-Broadway show deserves so much love.