Friday, August 30, 2013

Luke's Top Ten: Broadway Breakdowns

We've all seen it.  At the beginning of the show the character is happy and enjoying their life...but we know it's just a matter of time before the screws in their head start to loosen.  Sure enough, by the time the curtain falls, they've had a full on Broadway Breakdown!  Sometimes they're sung, sometimes they're spoken, but they're always powerful.  Personally, the breakdown is my favorite part of almost every show!  I love it whenever there is energy, and there's no volcano of energy as cataclysmic as the Broadway Breakdown.  So, without further ado here's my list of my top 10 Broadway (and Off-Broadway) breakdowns:

#10 - Nessa Rose [Wicked]
In most shows, the lead gets the best breakdown (in this case the lead breakdown would probably be "No Good Deed").  However, occasionally a supporting actor/actress gets to be "the crazy one" and blows the audience away with their insanity instead.  That is the case in Wicked.  Out of all of the songs in Wicked, by far the most underrated (it didn't even make the album) is "Wicked Witch of the East".  It's such an epic song and it features Boq (my favorite character in the show) and it really gives Nessa Rose a chance to shine.  Now, there used to be a wonderful video of the West End cast (including two of my favorite British performers, Kerry Ellis and James Gillan), but for some reason it was tragically taken down.  So unfortunately I'll just have to give you this video which is audio only (I think the Australian cast), and you'll just have to kind of imagine what happens.  But if you ever get a chance to see this show live, be waiting for this song, and for Nessa's EPIC breakdown that gives her the position of #10 on this list.

#9 - Mr. Andrews [Titanic]
This was one of the first songs of Titanic that I ever became obsessed with.  It's the last scene of the show that takes place on the boat (the Finale is sung by the few survivors) and it depicts the actual sinking.  The song is sung by Mr. Andrews, the architect who designed the Titanic, as he realizes that the sinking could've been avoided if he had simply made a small modification to the design.  He realizes that this one mistake has killed thousands.  Going even further, he begins to lyrically depict the horrific way they'll die in detail.  I wish there was a good quality video of this produced live, because I've seen groups who, while this song is going on, have the passengers upstage screaming and crying out as they and their loved ones fall into the icy water.  It's really an epic moment!  But what gets me most is Mr. Andrews.  He's so intense!  Even though he doesn't necessarily "freak out," he has a calm, reserved breakdown, which makes it all the more chilling!

#8 - Carrie [Carrie]
Now, for those of you who don't know, Carrie is widely known as one of Broadway's biggest flops.  It ran for 5 performances and was called "the most expensive Broadway quickflop in history."  As it happens, one of the reasons the show failed was because a lot of people were not impressed with the way that Carrie's final breakdown was staged.  Personally, I've never seen the staging, but I know that the song is epic!  It's actually hard to choose one in this show, because Carrie and her mother  each have at least 4-5 breakdowns before the bloodied curtain falls on this show.  You could probably make a song-cycle entitled "Songs of a Crazy Lady" and the majority of this soundtrack would fit in there.  For those of you who don't know the story, it's about a girl named Carrie who has super natural telekinetic powers (like Matilda in Matilda).  Unfortunately she is bullied for being a freak and lives with a crazy "religious" mother (the kind that literally beats her daughter with a bible and is certain that every boy Carrie talks to is sent from hell).  *SPOILER* The show is mostly about her tortured life, but then climaxes at the prom when, as soon as she begins enjoying herself and even begins to be accepted by the others, a bully's cruel prank brings her to her breakdown.  In retaliation, Carrie reacts the same way any psychologically unstable, telekinetic, scorned teen would: She destroys the school and kills everyone at the prom.  Now, while I don't condone Carries actions, I do appreciate that she at least made an epic song about it! And it's that kind of flare in execution that lands her at the #8 spot on my Broadway Breakdown list!  (*NOTE* This song is mostly comprised of short reprises, so if you want to get the most out of it, you kind of need to listen to the rest of the soundtrack which, I should warn you, contains a good bit of foul language (this song is clean though) ).

 #7 - Diana [Next To Normal]
Like with Carrie, this whole show is kind of centered around Diana's 2 1/2 hour breakdown.  Sure there are moments when she can keep it together, but, to be perfectly honest, she begins the show crazy and ends it even more so.  Of course, even though she has several breakdowns throughout the show (and her family gets a couple of doozies too), I don't think any of them can compare to the tantrum she throws in "You Don't Know."  In this song, Diana, having just thrown a birthday party for her son that's been dead for 18 years (but she is still under the delusion that he's alive), confronts her husband and defends her crazy actions.  In this song we get a peek into what it's like to live as a crazy woman, and that plus the pained, crazed expression on Diana's face would earn it a spot on this list.  The fact that it's an epic song sung to perfection by Alice Ripley is just the icing on the cake!  (*NOTE* Because I want you to be able to see this performance I'm going to post N2N's Tony performance which included this song and another.  I would highly recommend watching them both, but the second one does have some language, so if you want to avoid that, stop the video as soon as the guy starts singing).


 #6 - Maria [West Side Story]
This is the first (but not only) breakdown of our list that actually does not take place during a song.  In fact, this moment (which I consider to be the best in West Side Story) is not musicalized at all, but it is a hauntingly intense finale.  When I watched the movie for the first time (alone in my basement, like any good musical fanatic with no friends) I couldn't move after it ended.  I stared at the TV, watching the credits scroll by, numbed by the intensity of the drama.  In fact, even though some people don't like the fact that Maria (the character paralleling Juliet) lives when Juliet dies, I think this ending is so much more intense and makes the show all the more tragic.  Plus, I think it sets a good precedent for people in the future.  If ever you're wondering how to end a show, I think giving a crazy suicidal lady a gun is a wonderful ending!  So now, feast your eyes on #6: Maria's breakdown (*NOTE* I had to use the movie because it was the best quality I could find, but it's pretty darn good).

 #5 - Andy [Glory Days]
Although it doesn't have the fame of Carrie (largely because it wasn't near as expensive to mount), Glory Days was an even bigger flop.  It played exactly 1 performance on Broadway (the cast came home from the Opening night Party to be told that the show was closed).  I find this terribly sad because, while the show was no Les Miz, I thought that it had some great songs, some talented actors, and a relevant message.  The show takes place on a high school football field where four best friends from high school have convenient for a make-shift reunion after their first year of college.  Although all four boys start the show in high spirits, tempers start flying when they realize that they're not all the way they used to be.  Long story short, things get said that shouldn't have been said and people get hurt.  This song is sung by Andy (the most hot-tempered of the bunch) who finally erupts because he feels like nobody's listening to him.  It's big, it's epic, it's filled with passion, and it ends with pretty much everybody storming out, like any good breakdown should! (*NOTE* This song does have some fairly extreme language.  I do NOT recommend it for innocent ears).

#4 - Henry Jekyll [Jekyll & Hyde]
Like several other members of this list, poor Dr. Jekyll's breakdown is pretty much spans the entire show.  From his first breakdown (Board of Governors) to his last (Finale), the good doctor's wits seem to desert him as he descends into a fit of emotion.  In fact, his several breakdowns prompt just about every other character in the show to have a breakdown of their own (a few of whom have gruesomely literal breakdowns).  This particular song has spent a long time on my "favorite song ever" and it has the prestige of being Dr. Jekyll's second to last breakdown.  In it we see a man who is...conflicted at best.  Now some have you might have been exposed to David Hasselhoff's version of this song....I pity you.  I am pleased to present you with my favorite man to play Jekyll/Hyde: the Georgia native Rob Evan. Despite my disapproval for the unnecessary shirt tearing, this is a really solid performance of an epic breakdown!  After watching, you'll see why this was amazing enough to land Henry Jekyll comfortably in #4. (*NOTE* This song does contain some brief, fairly strong language.  You have been warned)

#3 - Sam Byke [Assassins]
Assassins is really a nice compilation of tons of good breakdowns.  If you ever feel like listening to The Ballad of Booth, I am a Terrifying and Imposing Figure, or How I Saved Roosevelt, you would see plenty of fantastic breakdowns!  However, none of them can rival that of old Sammy Byke.  I love this monologue so much!  I have literally sat in my basement and performed it to nobody several times, and I would've used it for an audition piece had not a friend of mine snagged it first (and, let it be noted, that he got the lead role that year).  As for the history behind the piece, Sam Byke was a fairly disturbed man for a long time, but it all erupted while he was driving to the airport.  Why was he going to the airport you ask?  Well, his plan was to hijack the plane, and drive it straight into the white house to kill president Richard Nixon, who he blamed for his losing his job (of course, he was overly paranoid, so once he got on the plane, he shot and killed both of the pilots and, since he couldn't fly himself, never got off the tarmac).  Since he knew that he would be killed in the crash, he needed a way to tell the world his motives behind this assassination.  So Sammy decided to use a cassette recorder to record a message that he wanted to tell President Richard "Dick" Nixon.  Lucky for us, during this message, Sam has one of the best Breakdowns ever to grace the Great White Way.  His tantrum tragically cost several innocent lives, but it did earn him a spot in a musical, and the number #3 spot on this list.  (*NOTE* This Monologue has a good deal of VERY strong language.  It is most certainly not suitable for innocent ears).

#2 - The Leading Player [Pippin]
Like in Sam and Maria The Leading Player does not need a song for his breakdown (which makes it a fun audition monologue, and one that I've used before).  Like most monologues that take place at the end of the show (and this is VERY close to the end of the show), it is really best appreciated after you've seen the rest of the show.  But for those of you who don't have that kind of time, all you really need to know is that the Leading Player has spent the whole show manipulating Pippin and this breakdown is what happens when Pippin suddenly rebels.  Now, the actor who is most associated with this role is certainly Ben Vereen (While Patina Miller is awesome, nobody just can't top this guy) who many might know for another major breakdown he had in Jesus Christ Superstar (which, like a surprising number of these, ended in his own death).  In my opinion, nobody could possibly pull this breakdown off the way that he did!  In fact, when I used it for an audition, I had to make some changes to the script because he made the lines sound epic, and they just sounded weird when I said them.  What I love is the way he just goes back and forth between tactics.  He, unlike most of our list, tries to keep up his outward appearance as he descends into madness, but, especially as the scene progresses, you can see his frustration seeping through.  If you want a master class in subtle acting while keeping high intensity, this is the breakdown you need to see!  It's so good, it has been called by some (namely, me) the number two Broadway Breakdown! (*NOTE* This video has some brief, mild language.  It's hardly even worth mentioning, but I know this blog has some young readers, and I thought that you should be warned).

#1 - Burrs [Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party]
Ok, so technically this is not a Broadway show.  But the meltdown is just so epic that I had to make an exception.  This, the climax of "Andrew Lippa's The Wild Party" (So named because there was another show based off of the same book called "The Wild Party" was not written by Andrew Lippa), is the reason I started this list, and is definitely my favorite Broadway Breakdown ever!  For those of you who were not aware, pretty much this entire show is about infidelity and jealousy.  In a rather confusing love quadrilateral, two men are at a party each with a woman, and by the end of the show they have switched women (either because they wanted the other woman, they wanted to make their woman jealous, or the other woman wanted them, or the other woman wanted to make her man jealous, etc.).  After a "Wild Party" indeed, the show ends, like any good story about infidelity must, with a jealous man in a bed room with his scantily clad wife/girlfriend, her lover, and a revolver.  Sounds exciting, right?  Now, remember who wrote this song.  Andrew Lippa is the brilliant mind who brought us songs like "My New Philosophy" [You're A Good Man Charlie Brown], Crazier than You [The Addams Family], Run and Hide [John & Jen], and is about to stun the world with his newest musical Big Fish.  You want to listen to the song now, don't you?  Just wait.  Now consider the cast in this song: Brian D'Arcy James (Shrek [Shrek: The Musical], Fredrick Barrett [Titanic]) is holding the gun, Julia Murney (Elphaba [Wicked] (replacement), Florence Vassy [Chess] (2003 Concert)) is his woman who was messing around with Taye Diggs (The Bandleader [Chicago] (2002 Movie), Benny [RENT]) who came to the party with his girl Idina Menzel (Elphaba [Wicked], Maureen [RENT]).  Ok, so let's review, this song has the most dramatic set up ever, is written by a musical theater genius, and features a freakishly incredible cast.  Ok, now that you're fully appreciating all of this epic splendor, you can enjoy what is, in my opinion, the number one Broadway Breakdown ever!!!  (*NOTE* While this song is splendid, there is a bit of fairly strong language.  Not as bad as some of the songs on this list, but bad enough that I wouldn't suggest it to any young ears.)

John Jasper [Mystery of Edwin Drood] - Jasper's Confession
The Phantom [Phantom of the Opera]- Stranger than You Dreamt it
Smeagol [Lord of the Rings: The Musical (West End)] - Gollum/Smeagol

Well, there you have it.  Between the tears, screams, shrieks, an maniacal laughter, we get a glimpse into some Broadway brilliance.  Whether it's a neglected sister, a mourning girlfriend, or a cuckolded clown, Broadway is full of characters who get pushed right over the edge of insanity.  These are my favorites, but do you think that I missed some?  Is there a classic breakdown that you think I just jumped right over?  Feel free to tell me about it in the comments.  There's nothing I love more than being exposed to new Broadway shows (especially if it has a good breakdown)!  Also, be sure to vote in the poll on the top right of your screen to tell me what kind of posts you want to see in the future.  Until then, go have a breakdown listen to a Broadway show!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

2013 Jimmy Awards

Everybody loves the Jimmy Awards.  There's nothing not to love!  The talent of the kids, the cleverness of the arrangements, the opportunity these students are receiving, all of it is just so darn amazing!  As some of you remember, last year we were made to wait some time before these videos were posted because they were releasing a PBS documentary called Broadway or Bust about these amazing talents.  To be honest, I really loved that special and I wish they could've done it again this year (but they should've told us that they were going to wait to release the videos).  But since there was no such special this year, the medleys have actually been released at a fairly reasonable time.  So please enjoy these marvelously talented students as they effectively blow your mind!!!!

*NOTE* For some reason I cannot explain, it's not letting me post most of the videos here on this blog.  If you click the green hyperlinks then you can watch them on youtube, but I'm afraid you can't watch them straight from here.  Sorry :(

If you're not familiar with the Jimmy Award Medleys then you definitely need to go to the NHSMTA Youtube page and watch all of the past years medleys.  These are such an amazing way to showcase each of the performers in the roles that landed them in the Jimmy's and they always find a way to have fun with the blending of the songs while still staying true to the characters.  The night that they were all posted, I stayed up late into the night watching them all and then had to go to my room and create my own improv medleys with my favorite characters (in pantomime of course, because my family was all asleep).  These just look like so much fun you can't help but want to join in!  So, without further ado, the 2013 Jimmy Award Medleys:

I know we're just beginning, but this has to be my favorite guy medley of the bunch.  It has great characters, great actors, good arrangements, and THAT ENDING HARMONY!  One of my favorite things about this medley is the fact that characters we've seen before sang songs we hadn't heard.  In the past all the Jekyll/Hydes sang "Alive Reprise", all Sweeney Todds sang "Epiphany", All Freddy Bensons sang "Great Big Stuff", etc.  But this time we got to hear those familiar voices sing new songs (a theme repeated in most of these medleys) which was great.  I also liked seeing some characters from fairly famous shows that we haven't seen before (namely Frank Cioffi, Adolpho, and Batboy).  The positive highlights of this Medley were definitely Adolpho (that kid was hysterical!) and Dr. Jekyll (What a voice!).  I also want to give a shout out to Valjean for doing a great job on a tough song, and the second Sweeney for having the voice of a 30 year old base.  Some not so nice parts of the medley included Seymour's performance (sorry!), Freddy starting too soon (but he nailed his two big notes after that), and the most awkward transition I've ever heard in one of these (from "My Friends" [Sweeney Todd] to "Let Me Walk Among You" [Batboy] ).  But then Coalhouse did an awesome job pulling things back in, and the entire ensemble ended on the best note(s) I've heard in a long time!  Great job men of Medley #1!!!

I think this is my favorite of the girl's Medleys for a lot of reasons.  I like the fact that we finally have gotten an Eponine (two in fact) as a nominee (I've been shocked that more haven't been nominated in the past).  I also like the fact that we got to see some characters that haven't been nominated ever before (like Kate Monster [Avenue Q] and Marmee [Little Women]).  I also love that they really did handle their "Millie" well in that they put her in a medley without the other one, and gave her a song that WASN'T Gimme Gimme (I've heard that song in these medleys more than I care to remember).  I also just like the staggering amount of talent in this Medley!  I think my favorites were the "bookend performers" of Kate Monster [Avenue Q] and Ariel Moore [Footloose].  But Cinderella [Into the Woods] and Millie Dillmount [Thoroughly Modern Millie] were both close runner ups.  The rest were certainly good, but they just didn't jump out as much.  And I also want to mention that I didn't particularly enjoy the performance of the two Adelaides [Guys and Dolls].  I mean, I know that accent comes with the character, but, for some reason, when these two did it, it got on my nerves more than it has in the past.  I also want to point out the range that Marmee [Little Women] had.  She sang most of that song in a super low register and still managed to tackle the higher falsetto notes.  All in all, all of these ladies were absolutely wonderful!

Once before (in 2011) they had so many of one character (Millie Dillmount in that one) that they gave them their own medley.  If you remember, it wasn't very good.  It was pretty repetitive, didn't have any dynamic, and none of the actresses were particularly incredible.  It was just kind of boring.  Because of this, I was afraid that this Baker Medley would fall under the same category of dullness.  However, there is one truly fascinating thing about the Baker that I hadn't noticed until this song.  He doesn't have a solo.  There is not a single song in the show that the baker has all to his own.  So they couldn't do what they did last time (have all five of them jump in and out of one song), so what did they do?  THEY MADE AN ACTUAL MEDLEY!  This was brilliant!  This means you still got the dynamic and the transition while staying within the same character.  But it gets even better!  They had the foresight to play with some of the lyrics a bit so as to keep the audience laughing (I just about died at "when there's five of you").  Like with the Millies, I can't really pick out any of these bakers above the rest, but this time it was because they were all just so entertaining in the way they worked together.  So congratulations the Jimmy Awards for this clever arrangement, and for all of these wonderfully talented bakers!

Ok, before I get going there is one question that I have.  How the heck is there a highschool in America who is allowed to do Spring Awakening (And before you ask, no, there is no official "cleaned up version".  Any editing that might have happened would've been illegal).  Ok, now that that's out of the way, onto the medley.  I did really like this medley.  From beginning to end it was certainly entertaining to say the least.  All of these girls did a fabulous job, but to me the stand outs were the first Olive Ostrovsky [25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee]and Meredith Parker [Batboy] (I was so disappointed it had to be her mic that cut out).  Honorable mention definitely goes to the Jo March [Little Women] (What an incredible voice!).  As for anything bad about this Medley.  I didn't care for the ending note the girls hit (partially because I don't think Elle [Leagally Blonde] carried it very well), and I REALLY didn't approve of the Audrey [Little Shop of Horrors].  She fell victim to the classic blunder of overdoing the accent and letting the singing suffer.  However, aside from these few cringing moments, I really did love this Medley.  It reminded me of some great songs I hadn't heard in a while and gave me a new new favorites.  Well done ladies :)

You know how they say "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts"?  Well the opposite seems true for this medley.  Individually, each of these guys do an excellent job and it's really hard to pick a favorite.  However, I don't really care for the medley as a whole.  True they did have some kind of clever transitions (mostly using Princeton), but for the most part the characters and songs in this medley were just kind of boring.  Of course, this is not to say that individually these guys were bad.  Like I said, all of these guys are awesomely talented and this medley actually includes two of the nights winners (Emmett won "Best Ensemble" and the second J. Pierpont won Best Actor).  It's hard to choose a favorite in this one.  Personally I'd probably say Emmett [Legally Blonde] and Princeton [Avenue Q] , but they were all wonderful!  The only one I didn't particularly care for was Joseph [Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat].  I can't really put my finger on why I didn't like him, I expect most of it is I don't think he was as good as the guy who played Joseph when I was in it (although I am admittedly biased).  He certainly had a good voice, I just didn't like his interpretation of the character.  But, even though this medley wasn't my favorite, it's still really good and worth watching.

Once again, I'm really in awe by all the talent here.  Granted, this medley was mostly made up of very common characters (With Velma Kelly, Annie Oakley, and The Lady of the Lake being the exceptions).  But even with that handicap, I feel like these actress found a way to make their characters their own.  Among all the talented divas singing in this medley were two official winners (Dolly Levi won Best Actress and The Lady of the Lake won for best Junior).  Personally, my favorites were The Lady of the Lake [Spamalot] ( I think she's my favorite girl of the evening.  I loved the way she put the character first but still pulled out a KILLER voice) and Velma Kelly [Chicago] (partially because I love how much her character contrasted the rest of them).  The runner up would have to be Janet van de Graaff [The Drowsy Chaperon].  Although I didn't like her performance the first time I saw it (I thought it was a bit forced), the more I watch it the more I realize that that is exactly how the character should be played.  Of course, this Medley had it's low points too.  I can't say that I liked Millie Dillmount [Thoroughly Modern Millie] or Polly Baker [Crazy for You], and that ending note they all hit made me cringe.  But if you look past these drawbacks, it's a really great group of actresses singing/acting their hearts out, and you can't ask for more than that!

Although this medley wasn't my favorite, it certainly had it's excellent moments.  It was mostly composed of "straight guys" (you can tell by all the suits) but there were a couple of fun characters tastefully thrown in there.  I thin my favorites in this medley were the Man in the Chair [The Drowsy Chaperon] (I've always loved the character, and it was fun to see him throw himself into it) and The Scarecrow [The Wiz] (another favorite character of mine, brilliantly done).  Runner up definitely goes to Billy Crocker [Anything Goes], who had a truly infections energy (and the transition into his song was priceless!).  Of course, there were a few gentlemen I didn't particularly care for.  I thought Bobby Strong [Urinetown] was a little weak on some of his big notes (but, from the looks of things, that may have been an abnormally bad day for him) and I felt like Sky Masterson [Guys and Dolls] was just kind of off.  One of the things I really liked about this medley that I feel like I have to point out are the two Valjeans [Les Miserables].  I love the fact that, although they were the same character, they really couldn't be more different.  You can see a difference in the costumes, their physical appearance, the way they carry themselves, the way they sing, and their acting choices.  What I think it is (and I doubt this was intentional) is the first one looks like a mayor, and the second looks like a convict.  Both are correct, but very different from each other.  It just goes to show how different people can interpret a character different ways.  It was also cool seeing a Usnavi [In The Heights] up there!  I didn't realize that that character really doesn't sing at all in the show (just raps) but I thought this kid did a pretty good job anyway.  All in all, it was a fun one to watch.

So that's the medleys!  I'd say they get better every year, but I think it's more accurate to say they stay perfect every year!!!  We got to see some old familiar characters (Valjean, Millie, The Baker, Belle, etc.), got to see some new ones (Billy Crocker, Meredith Parker, Joseph, Annie Oakley, etc.), and got to be spectacularly entertained!  If I had to pick favorites I think I'd probably choose Mackenzie Kurtz (The Lady of the Lake) and Steven Heller (Jekyll/Hyde), but, as usual, neither of them were finalists.  It's no secret that I'm horrible at picking those out of the medleys.  But lets have a look at the talented young performers who were finalists.

The Solos
In an attempt to diverge from last year, let's begin with the Gentlemen:

This is Austin Crute, (the nominee from Atlanta, Georgia who played The Scarecrow [The Wiz] in Medley #7) singing "Hold Me In Your Heart" from Kinky Boots.  Personally I thought this was the best performance of the guys.  He sang this song with the passion and conviction it required and it was truly fun to watch.  I think it was an excellent song choice (especially considering the comedic nature of his Medley performance) and I'm glad that he made finalist.  Way to go Austin!

This is Micheal Burrell (the nominee from Mission Viejo, California who played the third The Baker [Into the Woods] in Medley #3) singing "This Is Not Over Yet" from Parade.  I don't know why I didn't like this performance so much because I liked Micheal in his Medley and I LOVE this song.  I guess I thought he just didn't look happy enough while he sang.  I mean, this guy just found out that he might not be hung for a crime he didn't commit, so I feel like a massive grin should never leave his face, but Micheal just looks angry for most of the song.  Of course, that acting choice aside, he does have a good voice for this character and he did sing the song well, so I see why he was a finalist.  Well Done Micheal.

This is the 2013 Jimmy Award Winning Best Actor Taylor Varga (the nominee from Norwich Connecticut who played the second J. Pierpont Finch [How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying] in Medley #5) singing "Santa Fe" from Newsies.  I haven't decided yet whether or not I like this kid's voice, but this was a perfect song choice for him.  I like how he didn't even try to add the characters iconic accent (which is traditionally WAY too heavy), he really kind of took the original character out of the song and made it his own, which I honestly approve of.  What's more, he seemed genuinely happy to be there singing, and that always makes it more enjoyable for us watching.  So, congratulations Taylor, you should be proud!

And now, for this year's lovely ladies (for some reason thus far unexplained to me, there were 4 finalists instead of 3):

This is Jillian Caillouette (the nominee from Norwich, Connecticut who played Jo March [Little Women] in Medley #4) singing "Finding Wonderland" from Wonderland: A New Adventure.  I loved Jillian in her Medley and I thought she was great here as well!  I loved the obscure song choice (that's one of my favorite things about the Jimmy Solo's, there's always a couple nice and obscure songs), and I really loved the way she belted it out.  I do feel like once she started singing the bigger notes (especially at the end) she kind of lost the acting and started looking really angry (and this is really a peaceful song lyrically) but aside from that I really don't have a complaint.  Jillian nailed it!

This is Eva Maria Noblezada (the nominee from Charlotte, North Carolina who played Ariel Moore [Footloose] in Medley #2) singing "With You" from Ghost: The Musical.  I think that this is my favorite performance of all of the soloists (guys and girls alike) and I'm honestly a bit surprised she didn't win.  Her emotion was powerful, her voice perfect, and her stare just piercing.  This song had plenty of dynamic and always seemed complete consumed in it.  All in all a really touching, ovation-worthy performance.  Brava Eva Maria!!!

This is Martha Hellerman (the nominee from Madison, Wisconsin who played Wendla [Spring Awakening] in Medley #4) singing "A Part of That" from The Last Five Years.  I really did like Martha's performance.  I thought she did a good job staying in the character, I think the song was a good choice for her, and she definitely sang it well.  I did feel like she was kind of shouting at some of the big notes, but maybe that's just what you have to do in a song like this.  All in all, to me, there really isn't much to make this performance stand out.  It wasn't amazing, but it certainly wasn't bad either.  Of course, it was way better anything that I could hope to do, and so for that, I applaud you Martha!

This is the 2013 Jimmy Award Winning Best Actress Sara Lynn Marion (the nominee from Fullerton, California who played Dolly Levi [Hello Dolly!] in Medley #6) singing "Raunchy" from 110 in the Shade.  Sarah Lynn probably gets the award for the most obscure song of the night (the only one I hadn't heard before) and I'd also wager that she delivered the "most courageous" performance.  It was wonderful to watch her completely let go of all self-consciousness, throw caution to the wind, and just get lost in this confident character.  That being said, I don't love the song choice just because it doesn't fit my personal taste.  However, her voice rocked it, and I think it's the kind of thing that she really had fun with, so I see why she picked it.  Before I finish talking about Sarah Lynn, I have to mention that she attends the Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts.  You know why that's noteworthy?  Because Alex Syiek (2009 Nominee), Kyle Selig (2010 Winner), Jacob Gonzalez (2011 Nominee),  and Elizabeth Romero (2011 Nominee & 2012 Winner) also all attended the Huntington Beach Academy for the Performing Arts.  That's right, at least one person from this school has made it to the Jimmy's every year it's been in existence and Sarah Lynn is the 3rd one to win it all.  You know what this means?  It's likely that all of these people have performed in shows together!  So if you're ever near Fullerton California, go see a show by HBAPA (as I think they're occasionally known) because it's likely as not the show you see will contain future Jimmy Award nominees and winners, just like the spectacular Sara Lynn!

And...Everything Else
While, in my opinion, they aren't as cool, for continuities sake I figured I should post the rest of the performance videos from this years Jimmy Awards (or at least links).  The first one I'm going to show you is this years opening number.  If you're not familiar with the Jimmy's opening numbers, they always do a parody medley of songs from current long running Broadway shows (like Newsies and Wicked) and some of this years new shows (like Matilda and Pippin).  For some reason or another, they also decided to add in a pop song this year (We Are Young by the non-Broadway group "FUN").  Although I don't like diluting this beautiful Broadway mash up with "other music" I think as a whole this opening is still amazing!  Enjoy:

In the Jimmy's closing numbers, they always do something similar to the Opening, just with less songs.  They usually spend most of the song focusing on one or two songs instead of the several featured in the opening.  This year they chose to build the song around "Ten Minutes Ago" [Cinderella] (which was cool, because the night's hosts, Cinderella stars Santino Fontana and Laura Osnes, got to sing a little with the kids) and "Raise You Up" [Kinky Boots].  I'm sure this was an emotional moment for all of the kids, and, although it isn't my favorite of the Finales, it is really nice.  Take a look:

And that's it for this year's Jimmy Awards.  All the ups and downs, success, and defeat, wins and...well, each of these kids got flown to New York to train for a week with theater professionals, meet some of the other most talented kids in the country, audition in front of professional theater agents, and perform on a Broadway there really were no losses.  As always I am both extremely jealous of and incredibly happy for each and every one of these kids.  Remember some of these names, because there is no doubt in my mind that you'll hear of some of them again!

This is probably my last post for the summer (and when school starts up I slow down a lot).  Seeing as I might not be able to post quite as much over this next school year, I've decided to prioritize.  If you would be so kind as to vote in the top right corner for which kinds of posts you enjoy reading the most then that would greatly help me in my prioritizing.  As always thanks so much for reading, and feel free to leave any comments you like (I will read them).  Now, go listen to some Broadway Music!