The last performance of the day was The Color Purple (performing on their home stage and aired on CBS) and it might have been my favorite. The producers were smart in choosing to make this a "CBS" performance because there wasn't enough dancing for it to make sense on the Macy's star. They also made smart choices on songs by performing a medley the opening and closing number which featured both the whole ensemble and the massive powerhouse of talent that is Cynthia Erivo. The songs were powerful and gave a great window into what the show actually was, soulful, deep, and apologetically beautiful. I'll admit that I'm not a huge fan of this show, but I've been repeatedly impressed by this cast/production and this performance further swayed me that this production earned it's Tony Awards.
Thursday, November 24, 2016
You may have noticed that one my biggest pet peeves for parade performances is lack of originality. I was concerned when I saw that School of Rock was performing again because we already saw them last year and there are really only two songs they can ever perform. Sure enough, the song they performed "Stick it to the Man" is one that we've seen before, but this year there was something new...the distinct lack of Alex Brightman. I've long said that the main reason School of Rock has the success it has was because of the infectious energy and charisma of Mr. Brightman. The new fellow they have, Eric Petersen, did fine. They did a good job with not making him a carbon copy of Alex, but I can't help but feel he was more...tame. The performance was good. And I supposed if I hadn't already been aware of Alex Brightman's brilliance I would've thought it was even better, but as it stands...I was just depressed. And I'd be surprised if School of Rock is still here by the summer.
There are a few Broadway mysteries in life that we may never understand. Why is the lyric in Castle on a Cloud "There are a hundred boys and girls"? How does one actually turn off the dark? And how on God's green earth is On Your Feet still running?! I mean, I acknowledge that this show wasn't made for me. I don't care for Latin Pop Music, I prefer original fictions to adapted biopics, and Jukebox musicals make me twitch. That being said, I'm not alone in my dislike for On Your Feet. It received mixed reviews from critics, it hasn't been doing well in the box office, and the Tony Awards didn't care for it much either. We saw it in the Parade last year and enjoyed the energy and "spunk" that they brought to the proceedings. This year, as one of CBS's shows that perform from the theater, they did a very similar performance. There was some great dancing, some mega-talented little kids, and some nostalgic music...but all in all it reminded me more of a Vegas tribute show than something that belongs on Broadway.
Can't say I love Hairspray as a show, but NBC's live shows have been improving as they go, so this show could be fun. It has an interesting cast with Kristin Chenoweth and Harvey Fierstein surprising nobody with their roles, picking an unknown for Tracy (which is becoming a tradition now it seems) and returning Ariana Grande to her Broadway roots as Penny Pingleton. I'd like to say that this show is more than it's cast...but I'm not sure that's really true. This performance confirmed that what we're going to see on December 7th is the exact same Hairspray that your high school did, just with some more famous people. I thought this performance was alright. They chose the obvious number and didn't even transfer it to the square and just performed it on the set (which honestly didn't add anything. But perhaps they feared if they hadn't don'e that, people wouldn't be able to differentiate this from the time the original cast performed You Can't Stop the beat on the star in 2002, or the time the movie cast performed You Cant Stop The Beat on a float in 2007). If anybody got any new information about this show from this performance, it must be because they've never even heard of the show. This production played it safe, and while I'm a bit disappointed, I'm not particularly surprised.
So Paramour has had an interesting journey. We actually saw it on a float in last year's parade, and while there was lots of money and hype put into it, critically it hasn't done very well. I'm still very interested in it, but I'm having trouble getting my mind around it. I haven't been able to find a soundtrack, and all the videos seem to be the same kind of thing. This performance falls into that as well. "Hollywood Wiz" and the title song are the only numbers I've ever really been able to hear in the show...which makes me wonder if there's much depth outside of that. Now, I thought this performance was super cool. I loved the acrobatics, the unicycling, the Chinese yoyo, all of it, I thought it was a stellar performance. But this, in conjunction with the rest of what I've seen, makes me now if the show has any substance behind the spectacle.
I have to point out though, I'm so VERY excited that Ryan Vona is staring in this cast. Not to sound too creepy, but I've been a fan of this kid since he was in hischool and I think it's so freaking cool that he's staring in a Broadway show now. I expect/hope we see lots more amazing work from this guy in the years to come!
I'm just gonna say it. I like cats. I know that nobody else does, but I think it's fun. That being said, I maintain that there's no point reviving something unless you do something different with it. And I see absolutely no evidence that they're doing anything remotely different with this show. The costumes were almost identical to the movie (except Grizabella), the choreography (from Hamilton's Andy Blankenbuehler) was hardly distinguishable from the original, and Grizabella was the only character they seemed to do anything remotely different with. Now, I'm not saying it's a bad performance, I thought they did excellent and I would love to watch the show. But I can't say that it belongs on Broadway, and this performance kind of confirms that.
I'll be honest, I forgot Waitress opened this year. It was such a staple at this year's Tony Awards, I kind of thought it was last year. That being said, I am a fan of the show, and I'm also a fan of this performance. I appreciate their not starting with "Opening Up" (which I've seen on every morning talkshow on television). The other song did a nice job of showing the softer side of the show and I think effectively contrasted the closing number they ended with. I do have to say, it was a little weird not seeing Keala Settle, Kikimo Glen, or Christopher Fitzgerald in the show...but aside from that, nothing negative to say. They were great!!!
So I remember watching the old Bing Crosby/Fred Astaire movie years ago, and so I was excited to see it come to Broadway. By bringing in Bryce Pinkham and Corbin Blu, they latched on to the idea of bringing in big stars to jazz up a possibly out of date show. I'm still thinking that this is going to be a fairly average show, but I thought their Parade performance was solid. Unfortunately, here in Georgia, the footage skipped and cut out (I almost missed Bryce Pinkham juggling!) but aside from that I enjoyed it all! I had seen this particular song before and it was a great choice! The dancing is the show's strong point and the jump rope tap dance is probably the coolest thing they do in the show. Unfortunately, the jump rope bit did kind of make it obvious that the song was pre-recorded, but that's unavoidable. All in all, it's still not my kind of show, but this was a great performance and I hope it has a healthy run on the great white way!