Friday, May 30, 2008

Happily Ever After - My Fair Lady, Cinderella - Musical and Ballet Reviews

My Fair Lady - Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts - National Tour - Toronto, ON
Music by Frederick Loewe, Book and Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner, Directed by Trevor Nunn, Choreography by Matthew Bourne

Cinderella - National Ballet of Canada - Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts - Toronto, ON
Choreography by James Kudelka, Music by Sergei Prokofiev

I saw two classics this week. The musical My Fair Lady, and the ballet interpretation of the beloved fairy tale Cinderella. If you're one of those people that believe My Fair Lady is one of the best (if not the best) musical ever, and think it's perfect, well then my review is going to be blasphemous to you. It's a solid production of a classic musical that I can enjoy at best, but I just fail to get excited over anything about it.

I can get excited about the National Ballet of Canada's Cinderella which was an absolute joy! While the second half of the first act was slightly tedious from too much traditional flitting around by girl ballerina's running around in circles, the rest of show, from the fun fairy tale Disney like (I mean that in a good way) opening to the second and third acts, was just a fabulously entertaining and mesmerizing dip into good old fashion storytelling much like those bedtime stories during childhood.

I saw the ballet on opening night and had the wonderful Sonia Rodriguez as Cinderella (and who apparently just had her second child last summer with Canadian Olympic Figure Skater Kurt Browning... WHAT?) and my crush Guillaume Côté as the Prince who must track her down after Cinderella leaves her sparkly ballet shoe at the ball (well, they DID have to switch it up to work for the ballet!). Rodriguez definitely had a charm about her while Côté fabulously floats in the air. (The performers rotate performances)

What makes Côté a star, other than the fact that the guy can dance like there were no gravity, is that he actually feels for the piece, and his facial expressions are subtle but impressively enhance the story. When he notices Cinderella at the ball, he has a tiny small creep up on him, quickly explaining his impressed impression for Cinderella as he's about to fall in love. It was a tiny moment, but spoke hugely and Côté excels in both the little emotional details in his acting as well as the CRAMAZING dance moves required of him.

There's also a great sequence when Côté's Prince treks around the world in search of his princess, with a nice cameo from the Hudson Bay coat.

Equally impressive are Rebekah Rimsay, who I've always noticed in every show I've seen her in this past season, and Jennifer Fournier, who sadly retires next month, playing the funny mean Step-sisters.

Both hilariously play up their roles, with Fournier acting like the snooty sister, while Rimsay is the nerdier socially awkward sister, and they EASILY convey the roles through an amazing use of their body movements. Rimsay is a particularly great actress in addition to her amazing dancing skills and she stays in character throughout the entire performance even into the final bows and even AFTER the curtain comes down. It's hilariously and she's spectacular every moment she's on stage. Her body becomes a comedic vehicle and yet knowing her performances in previous pieces, it's just one facet of her many talents.

Since this is the first season I've seen the ballet, and have quickly fallen in love with it (though i think partially due to artistic director Karen Kain's programming that seems to waiver to a slightly non-traditional modern lineup with even this Cinderella feeling more fun and fancy free than the image of dancing tutu's), it's fun to start recognizing and picking out dancers that truly catch my eye.

Even though he plays small side roles, Robert Stephen is always sharp with is movements and I truly think this kid is one to watch for. His performance in Rooster still burns in my mind, especially everytime I hear The Rolling Stones "Paint in Black" and even within an outstanding company, and despite his shorter stature, his body movements just always seemed perfect.

I'm not sure I ever saw Joseph Welbes before but he was particularly strong in the ensemble.

Keiichi Kirano and Richard Landry are always terrific in step and have strong performances.

Victoria Bertram, the character artist playing the Stepmother was hysterical, using old fashioned comedic movements (think Charlie Chaplin) to display her comic prowess. Try to notice when she starts climbing the cupboards to get her alcoholic beverage of choice! It's a neat side sequence using a funtastic set.

The touring version of My Fair Lady brought in from London has a great utilitarian set that smoothly switches from one set to another with such ease that it helps the productions pacing, in a slightly overlong musical.

So let's get this out of the way, I love the idea of Pygmalion and the basic storyline but the musical addition of Henry and Eliza falling in love always kind of creeped me out. Especially when they don't hide the age and status difference, since it's kind of important to the story (though for me, the status thing is more teacher/student than upper/lower class). I also never really bought WHY Henry would want to change Eliza because the whole bet/proving he could seems a bit weak so kind of underlines the creepiness of the elder gentlemen taking on the young street naif.

I know, it's a romantic lovely musical and I've turned it into the 6 O'Clock news item but it's just something that's just always bothered me about My Fair Lady.

The music is lovely and classic but it's exactly that. Lovely and classic and it's hard to get thrilled over it anymore.

I also find Eliza's father storyline completely useless (the whole sequence where he's about to get married is just an excuse to throw in dancing girls in the middle of the dry and dramatic section of the story) and because I don't buy Henry's intentions, I find the start a bit weird.

But once it get's going, and once we hear those famous words: "The Rain in Spain Stays Mainly In the Plains"... I became charmed by the musical all over again and Lisa O'Hare as Eliza certainly wins me over, especially during the hilarious ascot scene.

I know Henry Higgins is supposed to be a bit of a twat, only coming to terms with his own emotions later on, but I found Christopher Cazenove played the role technically right but I felt emotionally underwhelmed and not very charming. It can be a difficult role to play since he's got to be a bit of a bastard and yet still sympathetic but Cazenove could have pulled in more sympathy.

Matthew Bourne's choreography was good if unspectacular and I think I expected a bit more from him. The dancing on the trash cans was neat (if not a bit Stompish) but the sequence was too short and interesting choreography like that was too few and far between.

It was a mostly solid production that kept getting better with every scene but there were still moments that felt long, flat or dry in a musical that I find cute and likeable but never thrilling.

My Fair Lady - Toronto Centre for the Performing Arts - National Tour - Toronto, ON - ***1/2 (3.5 Stars out of 5)

Cinderella - National Ballet of Canada - Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts - Toronto, ON - **** (4 Stars out of 5)

The National Ballet of Canada has a great program for those 29 and under to get $20 tickets on the day of (starting at midnight on their website) under their program DanceBreak (and when asked for promo code, it's "DANCEBREAK" which they never seem to mention).

Here are my previous reviews from visits to The National Ballet of Canada:

Rooster & Soldiers' Mass & 24 Preludes by Chopin ****
An Italian Straw Hat ****1/2
West Side Story Suite & Glass Pieces & In The Night ****1/2
The Merry Widow ****

More After the Jump...

I'm Just So Into Them

Well now that the Sex and the City movie is out and getting VERY mixed reviews (3/4 from The Star, 0 from the Globe? 58% 56% currently at Rotten Tomatoes), it's time to move onto the next great chick flick hope.

And here it is, based on Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo's book, directed by Ken Kwapis and starring Drew Barrymore, Jennifer Connelly, Jennifer Aniston, Scarlett Johansson, Ginnifer Goodwin, Ben Affleck, Justin Long, Kevin Connolly, and Bradley Cooper.

I think I just had a mini-orgasm there reading out the cast list. I think I want to sleep with 7 of those people (I'll let you guess who but you'd be surprised who I would be leaving out).

He's Just Not That Into You is supposed to open later this summer fall (currently scheduled for October 24th 2008) but while I've never actually read the book, I'm already very sexcited!

Here's the new trailer that just came out a few days ago:

He's Just Not That Into You

I had been excited about this movie since I heard the cast list back when they were filming it cause LOVE that Ginnifer Goodwin rejoins with Ed costar Justin Long (one of those shows, along with Alias, where I will follow the casts ANYWHERE).

Love Bradley Cooper (Alias) and Kevin Connolly (the best thing in Entourage)

More After the Jump...

We Interrupt Your Regular Programming For This Commercial Break

Unless you're in Canada. Then you don't get to watch the new Octagon commercial by the fine folks at the Dharma Initiative. (That was placed during the gasp inducing season finale of Lost).

Unless you're in the states and FF through commercials (like I do so I might have missed it anyways if it actually did come on).

In case you missed it, here it is (after the jump below):

Go to to join the National Recruitment Drive in San Diego July 24-27th 2008.

Oh look and Comic-Con takes place in San Diego at the SAME TIME. How odd!?

More After the Jump...

Still Lost and Gasping For Air

Did last night just happen?


Did the island just disappear? Like plop. Into the ocean?

Did Ben just really MOVE the island?

OMG THAT LOST FINALE WAS SO GOOD but now my head hurts (though the lack of sleep probably has something to do with it too).

So apparently Jeremy Bentham is a v. famous English philosopher so my friend tells me. "Weird as hell, father of utilitarianism, certain forms of jurisprudence and the Auto-Icon (he had himself posthumously preserved!)...Bentham is late 18th, early 19th ce... John Locke, another famous philosopher, is seventeenth to early eighteenth century if I recall...he's the tabula rasa guy...he said that the mind is a blind slate when born vs. christian ideas that you are somewhat preformed.

That's where Bentham comes in because of his persona after death, the auto-icon idea if the writers are that smart... maybe. What i mean is that Bentham envisioned an afterlife for his corpse, that it would become animated and give speeches, or be studied, kind of venerated, etc. but also he theorized utilitarianism-- the happiness principle --and was all about rational government, a kind of efficiency for improvement of lives (kind of like punitive welfare)"

Thank goodness for history doctorate friends (is that the right term? PhD History? Anyways Congrats Sarah for finishing!).

Anyways, I'm not a huge Lost theorist because I'm just not that smart, I just enjoy it for the ride, the character studies and the DRAMA (and the funny lines in between it all).

I had been impressed already all season and it's pretty much going to be the clear winner in my new Best of List that I put out once the TV season is over (I should have it out sometime next week) but that was great last night!

Still, so what happens to those on the island? Where's Juliet and Sawyer? Rose and Bernard? Locke (or whatever the heck his name is) I guess is leader to the Others and I guess BAD THINGS HAPPEN. As in, worse than what's already happened? Do they all go down into the water in a bubble like Atlantis (as if we need new myths added on).

Is Claire assumed to be dead at this point? Michael and Jin too?

Did Desmond just up and leave now that he found the love of his life Penny? Just like that?

And how can Penny find them but daddy moneybags Charles not?

And how hot is Sun in her powersuit playing sly with Charles in London?

This is going to be a LONG wait for Season 5. Where's that bunny time traveling thing when you need it?

In the meantime, you can go check out the commercial for Octagon and join the recruitment from the fine folks at the Dharma Iniative.

More After the Jump...

Lost - Back To The Future

There's No Place Like Home - Part 2 & 3 - Ep. 413 - Season 4 Finale

The New York Times has an article that brought up some theories that I would have never thought of. Because I'm so confused. Enthralled. But confused.

Now that I'm primed for the season finale, let's begin! An end to the most superb season yet, one that has redeemed all the doubters out there who lost faith in some of the slower times of season 2 and 3. One that has just been a non-stop action/thriller/drama rollercoaster ride propelled by last years season 3 finale.

And talk about an intense finale. Dramatic and INTENSE and yet they still manage to throw in some funny lines and moments between all the gasp inducing revelations. Did I mention it was INTENSE? And Gasp INDUCING?

Jeremy Bentham said he could keep Kate and Aaron safe but it was HIS funeral that jack had attended last year...(back in the future)

and here we start a year later from last years shocking finale which is actually 3 years ahead from when they got off the island, when Jack is with full beard and in need of some anonymous group.

Oh man I'm confused already. Who is Jeremy Bentham?

So Jack and Sawyer finds Hurley and Locke again in the jungle. Locke wants bygones be bygones and asks Jack to stay on the island.

Michael, Jin and Desmond try to figure out a bomb on the freighter that is full of triggers that go boom. Sun tells Michael she's pregnant (oh yeah, I guess he missed a lot of gossip on the island didn't he?).

I know why Keamy seems super creepy (other than killing Alex). He's like a young Christopher Walken, if he were better looking in his younger days. (Seriously, I can't believe the actor Kevin Durand started out as a comedian in Canada!). Keamy wonders why Widmore would want Ben alive. Who knew he didn't know?

Just as Frank gets caught with a toolbox at the helicopter, Kate and Sayid and "others" launch an attack and Keamy is violently killed (or is he?) by Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell). Ben is taken away with the "others" and Kate and Sayid are free to get off the island. Just like that.

Then we return to Hurley in the asylum. It's like the best of flashbacks/forward episode. Then an older black lady walks in with her grandson, ready to meet Hurley again.

OMG. It's WALT. All grown up. 3 years later. (How convenient and brilliant).

Walt wishes Hurley had come to visit him, because only Jeremy did, but everyone is lying about it to protect all those left on the island.

So I guess this Jeremy dude is important eh?

Locke asks Jack to lie about everything that happened on the island if/when he goes back. The miracle island needs to be protected. Then Ben shows up. Ben. Locke. Jack. Together again. Can there be more testosterone in the room jungle?

Then Ben and Locke go down an elevator in the Orchid station. Love Ben's sarcastic tone when Locke wonders if it was the magic box. Instead, it's another video and by that Chinese doctor Dr. Marvin Candle. Basically explaining about time traveling bunnies in the egg shaped shower looking thing that reminds me of leftovers from the Austin Powers set.

Wait. Did Ben just confirm about time traveling bunnies?

Keamy returns (and I gasp still) and he has his security, the green button on his arm which I guess isn't an iPod. A green button that tracks his heart rate I guess, because Locke knows that everyone on the freighter is now dead, after Ben violently attacks Keamy and kills him (for real this time. . ?). Ben has little reaction to the notion that he just killed everyone on the boat.

Meanwhile, the new group seems to be imploding on itself as Daniel warns Charlotte and Miles that they NEED to get off on the next raft, but Miles is going to stay, and wonders why Charlotte is so quick to leave after trying so hard to come back.

Say what?

Daniel goes into the next raft, leaving Charlotte and Juliet on the beach.

Another best-of flashes into the future when we see Sayid kill someone that had been outside of Santa Rosa's Mental Institution so that Sayid can convince Hurley to escape out with him, 2 days after Jeremy Bentham dies.

Jack and Sawyer joins Kate, Sayid and Hurley, cuts Frank's handcuffs and off they go. Off the island. In haste.

The helicopter is losing fuel and they must dump as much weight as they can. So Sawyer jumps. After kissing Kate. In front of Jack. Ouch.

Michael, Jin and Desmond try to freeze the megabomb for enough time to de-activate the bomb on the boat, but there are too many wires to figure out. The red light on the bomb lights up and the nitrogen freezing buys them some time.

Just as the helicopter lands on the freighter. They patch up the hole in the fuel line fast enough in a fury and Desmond and Sun manage to get on the departing helicopter but Jin misses the ride. Michael runs out of nitrogen. Sees Jack's father. And the boat blows up with Michael and Jin still on it and Sun looking on from the helicopter above. I didn't think I would get emotional but watching Sun screen in horror was painful as they fly back to the island.

Then the wickedest of flash forwards and we see Sun in London, tracking down Charles Widmore and she cuts right to the chase, letting Widmore know where he could find her when he's ready to talk. Ready to talk about their common experience of leaving the island.

Meanwhile, Ben puts on his Dharma Initiative (with a new Octagon commercial!) winter coat and leaves Locke to lead the Others as he crawls through the hole behind the egg-shaped shower bunny time traveling machine where he goes down an icy cave, down ladders, falls, hurts himself (exactly the way we will later find him awoken in the desert) and then turns a huge clog that seems to emit a huge light from the island...

before the island DISAPPEARS right before Sun, Jack, Kate, Sayid, Hurley, Aaron and Frank's eyes, and just as the helicopter runs out of fuel, crashing into the ocean...

And we are STILL not done yet! Forget OMFG for Gossip Girl.

OMFG they just MOVED THE ISLAND on LOST. All because Jacob told them to. And Ben listened. WHAT???

The helicopter gang manage to save themselves in a dinghy and is found by a boat and Jack panics and tells them that they all need to lie together. Lie because there's been a whole other plane discovered as Oceanic 815. Because someone sent the freighter to kill everyone. Because the island just OMFG MOVED.

Oh, and on the boat that rescues the gang? Is Penny Widmore. (And NOW my body gives me chills during this episode? CHILLS!)

Desmond and Penny are reunited!!! And they leave Jack, Sun, Kate, Hurley, Sayid and Aaron to start their lie by rafting their way into a small village Mumbata (?)

And the Oceanic 6 are formed.

I'd leave you there but there was also a flash forward with Kate dreaming of Claire warning her not to bring Aaron back, and another flash forward with Jack (and beard) breaking into the funeral home where Jeremy Bentham's body lays.

And then another reunion! GASP. With Ben.

Apparently Jeremy told Jack that some very bad things happened after he left the island and it was his fault for leaving him, and Jack needed to go back.

Jack has been flying back and forth trying to crash onto the island, but Ben lets him know that the island will only let them back if they ALL return together.

ALL of them. Including the dead Jeremy Bentham. Laying there in the coffin.

We know Jeremy Bentham better as John Locke.





And the adventure is just beginning...

See you in 2009! 17 New episodes for Season 5!

17 more for Season 6 for the final finale in 2010!

The future of this show is as exciting as ever! I can't WAIT!

Photos Mario Perez/ABC

More After the Jump...

So You Think You Can Dance - S.C.D.C. The New Electric (Boogaloo) Term

Auditions - Charleston, South Carolina and Washington D.C. - Ep. 403

Judges in Charleston, South Carolina: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Tyce DiOrio
Judges in Washington D.C.: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and Dan Karaty

The auditions continue on in Charleston, South Carolina where many of past season faves had started off (Heidi! Benji! Travis!)

Sheila Kaiser is the first dancer we see from Charleston and she's a smart cookie (studying biological engineering) and she CAN dance! Not blow my mind dancing but pretty good and I like her pluck:

Jeremiah Hughes has a nice face, is shown shirtless and then speaks. Don't speak. Please. Don't speak. That spiritual cheese you're spewing ruins the face and the body. Then Jeremiah dances with his shirt open. Know your strengths! OMG he's from Toronto! Oh gawd...:

Twins Anthony Hart and Antwain Hart are pretty good, but not great. But Nigel calls out Anthony for repeating the same few moves, but praises Antwain for being the better of the two. Then they get to dance together. After Antwain sweetly praises his brother, and when they dance together, it's AWESOME (and both will make it to Vegas):

BJ Harris doesn't make it to Vegas after the choreography but the guy apparently has no bones. It's almost sickening. Freaky for sure:

Courtney Galiano is cute (she reminds me of Rachel Bilson or that Mila girl from That 70's Show) and dances contemporary pretty well:

Claire Calloway was that girl that got injured in season 2 and was guaranteed a free pass to Vegas in season 3, until she had a baby. She's back and looking skankier than ever, but she manages to make it through the choreography round and to Vegas although I don't really see anything special here:

The auditions continue in the nation's capital, Washington D.C. (where I'll be this weekend!):

Megan Campbell is pretty good in that white-girl-does-contemporary way but I felt like I've seen this all before (like Courtney Galiano above). Still, she's not bad:

Markus Shields wears a shirt with his deceased mother's face on it, while wearing one of those head thingy's that make him look like a gangster from the hood. I'm sorry if I'm racist or fall for the stereotype but I did NOT expect him to dance that gracefully in his slow hip hop/contemporary format:

Only 10 make it through on day 1 in DC.

Brandon Bryant auditioned before when he was 15 (you must be 18 or older) and so here he is again finally at 18. Wow. He's not polished, his hands aren't great but wow, those muscles float in the air and it's one of the best auditions I've seen this year so far. Now if he can only shut up when he's not dancing. Conceited a little? He's not horrible but his personality is already annoying me a little. Sorry, but Travis had the same control and tons of humility (or at least acted it, which is fine enough by me since we never saw him waver from that). Anyways, the dancing was good. Wow:

Phucdat Nguyen (for real?) looks like he might turn out into another joke, but some of his breaking, spins, and twisty gumby like moves were no joke:

Anthony Bryant (related to Brandon? He sure has the same cocky attitude, though coming from Julliard I can see why) and he's technically very good. The judges fault him for the lack of spark.

Phucdat doesn't make it to Vegas (I'm sure he's saying his name out loud!) and neither does Anthony, who while I think deserves to move on, turns into the gay diva bitch that I feared was lurking beneath. Maybe I'm a self hating gay but gawd, do we REALLY need to reinforce that stereotype more?

So all in all, some pretty decent dancing, though no one really blew me away (at least without having attitude (the Bryants) or a weird personality (Jeremiah)) to capture my devotion at this point. Though as I say, it's still way too early to tell since we still haven't even seen most of the dancers that make it through to Vegas (which frustrates me about this phase of the show).

Next week: The Midwest!

For More So You Think You Can Dance:
Check here for the most Recent current postings and Latest News on SYTYCD

So You Think You Can Dance - Season 4:

Salt Lake City and Dallas - Yeehaw Utah!
Los Angeles - It's Time To Put On Those Dancing Shoes Again Kids!

So You Think You Can Dance - Season 3:
Live Tour - Toronto, Pasha's Solo Video, Neil's Solo Video
Finale - Winner Result
Top 4 Performances - Finals
Top 6 Performances, Top 6 Results
Top 8 Performances, Top 8 Results
Top 10 Performances, Top 10 Results
Top 12 Performances, Top 12 Results
Top 14 Performances, Top 14 Results
Top 16 Performances, Top 16 Results
Top 18 Performances, Top 18 Results
Top 20 Performances, Top 20 Results

For So You Think You Can Dance Season 2:
Favorite Video Clips
Song List
Live Tour 2006 - Toronto
Live Tour 2006 - Buffalo, Pics, More Pics

More After the Jump...

Thursday, May 29, 2008

So You Think You Can Dance - Yeehaw Utah!

Auditions - Salt Lake City, UT and Dallas, TX - Ep. 402

Judges in Salt Lake City, Utah: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy, and Mandy Moore
Judges in Dallas, Texas: Nigel Lythgoe, Mary Murphy and Adam Shankman

So I just came from a FABULOUS opening night performance of Cinderella at the National Ballet of Canada so I'm especially on a high but I'm also probably going to be particularly picky after seeing some amazing dancers already tonight. (And I hopefully will have a review of the ballet tomorrow).

Salt Lake City Utah! The place where I've had the best Mexican mole ever yet, and the best fish tacos (not a durogatory term). Who knew?

Chelsea Hightower has 5 brothers. You know, just to emphasize the stereotype that every family in Utah can form their own dance company AND supply the audience members.

Oh wait. Michael Moore (not THE MM) has HOW many brothers and sisters? And his family IS it's own dance company called Morning Star. I was seriously kidding above. He doesn't make it through so I'm not going to waste my (and your) time.

Meanwhile, there's a figure skating dancer. (Oddly enough, I was sitting behind Canadian figure skating Olympic medalist Brian Orser and Kurt Browning was just a few rows over at the ballet tonight!) Gev Manoukian sort of combines contemporary with hip hop/breaking and it's pretty cool. I like the style and though it seems like it needs to be tamed a bit by a good choregrapher, this guys got potential. Here's the video clip:

Lyndsay Judkins makes it through and she's all smiles and facial expressions:

Then they show CONTESTANTS with tons of kids. They aren't part of the huge bundle of kids. They HAVE them. Okay, I seriously was just kidding when I made that comment above. I didn't actually think they were going to run with it?

Kelli Baker was in High School Musical as one of those side throwaway characters and she's the daughter of a dancer so she's got some stuff to live up to, and maybe she got the right song selection, but she did her contemporary routine pretty well. I think she TOTALLY picked the right song. Mia Michael's would have been proud:

After the choreography auditions for SLC Day 1 (with TRAVIS WALL!!! as the choreographer), Gev and 17 others make it through to Vegas! Sadly, we again weren't shown most of them yet.

On day 2 in Salt Lake City:

Ryann Race is a strip club DJ and seems like a WEIRD person but he has some decent breaking/hip hop moves:

Matt Dorame has this weird skating/swimming move but he has pretty good technique and jumps and he's cute enough!:

Thayne Jasperson seems far more graceful than his buff gym body and face make him out to be. He looks like he'd be a bouncer but he moves like a butterfly. It's a little odd to watch but kinda hot:

Kortney Pearson is a hot mama (literally, with a 1 year old) and she hip hops pretty girl for a blonde while girl but I'm not sure I'm totally impressed yet, but there could be something to work with here.

Kortney makes it though, then her friend Michelle Stringham goes next. Another hot blonde and while her socks fail her, she's a pretty hot dancer too. Here's the video clip of both auditions:

After the choreography from Day 2, a total of 42 go on to Vegas, including Ryann Race and Kortney and Michelle but that's about all we saw.

So onto Dallas Texas! YEEHAW!!! Recent home to my first serial commentator/reader/fellow SYTYCD addict LinzMcC! Sadly, very few in Dallas impressed me with their dancing skills. Here were the few that did:

Joshua Allen is a big black guy who does big (black?) popping! He looks like your local high school football jock but boy can move on the dance floor!:

Arielle Coker and John Dix audition together and for a big guy, he's pretty good and strong and she's so pretty. The judges mention the beauty and the beast thing and it kinda was, though he's more a big cuddly cute bear as opposed to beast.

There's yet more montages of the good dancers, none we really get to see (ARGH) and more dancers make it to Vegas, but I guess we will have to wait a few more weeks before we get to that point. And THIS is why I try not to get too attached at this point in the show.

There was also Paige Jones but she looked more like a stripper than a dancer to me. Sorry. Sadly, SHE makes it but John Dix (the "beast") doesn't. Oh well, I'm still not showing the clip of the stripper. Okay fine, but this is only for you to judge for yourself. Try NOT to make snarky comments. I challenge you:

So, that's it for Dallas and Salt Lake City! I think I was more impressed with Salt Lake City dancers but maybe because every family has 10 kids that there's bound to be a good dancer with the higher percentage birth rate.

Next episode this week: Washington DC and Charleston, South Carolina!

For More So You Think You Can Dance:
Check here for the most Recent current postings and Latest News on SYTYCD

So You Think You Can Dance - Season 4:

Los Angeles

So You Think You Can Dance - Season 3:
Live Tour - Toronto, Pasha's Solo Video, Neil's Solo Video
Finale - Winner Result
Top 4 Performances - Finals
Top 6 Performances, Top 6 Results
Top 8 Performances, Top 8 Results
Top 10 Performances, Top 10 Results
Top 12 Performances, Top 12 Results
Top 14 Performances, Top 14 Results
Top 16 Performances, Top 16 Results
Top 18 Performances, Top 18 Results
Top 20 Performances, Top 20 Results

For So You Think You Can Dance Season 2:
Favorite Video Clips
Song List
Live Tour 2006 - Toronto
Live Tour 2006 - Buffalo, Pics, More Pics

More After the Jump...

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Triple 7 - Boeing-Boeing - Theatre Review

Boeing-Boeing - Longacre Theatre - Broadway, New York, NY
Written by Marc Camoletti, Translated by Beverley Cross and Francis Evans, Directed by Matthew Warchus

It's a silly comedy, one of those with a bunch of doors (7 in this case) where people run in and out from. It's full of broad caricatures, sex jokes and stereotypes, and on paper, it shouldn't work, but goshdarnit if the amazing cast of Mark Rylance (former artistic director of The Shakespeare Globe taking a far less serious turn, Angels & Insects), Bradley Whitford (The West Wing), Gina Gershon (Bound), Mary McCormack (the new show In Plain Sight, The West Wing), Kathryn Hahn (Crossing Jordan) and Christine Byranski (the upcoming Mamma Mia, The Birdcage) and director Matthew Warchus don't use every ounce of energy they have to make it work.

While there are some slower moments and a bit of a slow start, once those engines are running, the play takes off (pun intended) with a bit of turbulence after intermission, but then it glides on nicely until the brilliant megamix closing dance number/curtain call (choreographed by Kathleen Marshall).

Other than the cast, I wanted to see the show because it's about an architect who dates 3 flight attendants (or air hostesses as it's known during the 1960's set play) simultaneously without their knowledge, but of course, that all comes crumbling down when an old friend comes to visit.

For those of you who know me in real life, you know there's a joke in there about me somewhere (and no, I don't date three people at the same time. That's not the joke. I'm not that kind of man (but I wish I were. badum boom)). So of course I HAD to see it! And I'm glad I did. While it's not the most mind blowing piece of theatre or even the funniest I've ever seen, it's solidly entertaining and silly and makes for a really good uplifting mood enhancing experience. Which I needed.

It's not a great play, or even has particularly clever or intelligent comic zingers, but the cast milk every bit they can on the simplistic set.

Mark Rylance is supposed to be the true revelation here as Robert, the friend who drops in unannounced, but I've been of fan of his since Angels & Insects and have had a crush on him since, so its no surprise to me that his deadpan reactions to the craziness that surrounds him makes for the most basic and effective use of comedic timing.

I've also had a crush on Bradley Whitford and he makes for a decent straight man Bernard at the centre of the play.

I've loved Mary McCormack from the intelligence she seems to exude in every movie and TV role she gets, even in dumb films, but she is UNRECOGNIZABLE here as the J-uhhh-Maaaahn Air Hostess Gretchen who claws and paws her way around the set, dominating both the boys and her scenes and tearing apart the script and spitting out zingers like cake at a diet clinic.

I'm also a fan of Gina Gershon and she does a wonderful job as the sexy, seductive Gabriella from Italy, and I keep forgetting that she plays comedy just as well as her normally strong dramatic roles that she's probably more known for. It's fun watching her trip up, fall over, get messed up, slammed in the face with the multiple doors and essentially bounced around the semi-circular set all while attempting to hold her own feminine power.

If there is one weak link, it could be Kathryn Hahn, who while very funny, I think she might have overplayed the American Flight Attendant Gloria. There were rumours Sarah Jessica Parker was being courted for this play and I assume she would have played the American Gloria and I think she would have played it very differently, with a bit more subtlety in a very non-subtle play. Still, Hahn over-gesturizes everything right from the start, the rest of the play caught up with her and by the time all 3 women start showing up at Bernard's apartment at the same time, things really get flying and overblown, and it totally works!

Finally, the always reliable Christine Byranski plays Berthe, the poor maid who must endure all the shenanigans while trying to keep her boss' secret safe. While the role itself doesn't showcase Byranski enough, she uses every moment she has on stage and infuses it with sarcasm and hilarious dissatisfaction.

There's a nice simplicity in the colour palette, with yellow, blue and red running rampant in the costumes and the set (with nicely placed hanging lights and a circular carpet) representing the three airlines the ladies work for; Lufthansa, Alitalia,and TWA. I love the simplicity in the molding that cuts across the upper wall zooming from one point to another (like an airplane taking off).

Boeing-Boeing is just as it sounds, bouncy fun that makes you forget about all the ills of travel, as you relish the sexy memories of that night you had in Paris (you naughty naughty traveler!).

Boeing-Boeing - Longacre Theatre - Broadway, New York, NY - ***1/2 (3.5 Stars out of 5)

A note on seating: Since I'm cheap, I usually do the cheapest deal, but while there are $20 rush seats, they are located in the box seats on the sides but due to the configuration of the set, you will miss all that's happening with the doors on your side which in this play, can be quite important.

You would rather purchase the $26.50 seats in the Balcony instead because it's quite a high rake and thus gives a good central view.

What the box office DOESN'T tell you though is that there are poles about 2 rows ahead of the cheapest section (in the next price level up so they aren't immune either. In fact, the poles are right in the leg area which seems awkward). They are thin ~4" poles but irritating if you're directly behind them.

So, at least for Rows E and up in the balcony (and I'm guessing the poles are in Row C so this affects Row D too), Seats 101 is good, 102-104 are behind the poles, 105-108 is perfectly central with a great view, 109-111 are behind a pole, and 112's aisle seat is fine again.

On the side sections, Seats 2,4,6,8 and the flip side 1,3,5,7 are fine, then there's a pole to block the views of the next three to four seats (10,12,14 and 9,11,13?), and then the rest to the far sides are fine again.

And if you're willing to pony up a bit more money because you're an investment banker or a lawyer, you should first pay your architect more money, tip your flight attendant, then you can go here for the Promotional discount coupon code for a deal on tickets (because I know you bankers and lawyers are rich, but ruthless (:P)!)

Photos by Sara Krulwich/NYTimes and Joan Marcus

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Alienated/ It's Too Late Now - Aliens in America, Men In Trees

Raja at Sixteen - Ep 117

Since Men In Trees restarts tonight (10pm on ABC/City) for its now final 3 episodes ever, and Aliens in America ended last week to its series finale, here's a little final eulogy to two of my favorite shows that barely anybody watched.
And I'm not going to start some kind of peanut campaign or anything, just saying that they were two terrific shows and now most people will miss out on the charms of Elmo, Alaska and Raja and the Tolchuks.

That look on Franny Tolchuk (Amy Pietz)? Is recreating the look of horror when the fans (and there were about that many as in the picture, 4 of us I'd say) found out that The CW was cancelling Aliens in America. And now it's too late and this is really a pointless post to convince you to watch (though it does go into repeats now) since you've missed the boat already and all I'm going to do is smack my head when you all come to me 3 years later after discovering a wonderful show called Aliens in America and wondering if it was still on. It's not. It's too late, cause you didn't watch when it was airing originals. It's your fault. (I'm talking to you Trent)(He "discovered" Six Feet Under and Veronica Mars after they were both cancelled AND thought I should check it out as if I had never seen them before. Smack.).

So sadly, we end our little run with Raja just as he turns 16 and just as he goes on his first date with the OTHER Muslim girl living nearby in Wisconsin. It was less a funny episode than an emotional and dramatic one, and again, it was nice and sweet as we watched Sadika and Raja "date" properly with both sets of families sitting by chaperoning the young pair.

Still, it was no less hilarious since Franny does her scheming to get these two together in the first place, AND THEN goes out of her way to clear some alone time for Raja and Sadika (and by extension, Claire and the hot blond foreign exchange student which was equally hilarious, especially when they finally "talk" instead of just sucking face).

Both the Muslim religion and their practices are treated with respect in the episode even as Franny tries to circumvent them (without intending them to insult Sadika's family).

Amy Pietz as Franny has been a total revelation in this series, never wavering from her Wisconsin accent and playing the fierce mother with her twisted sense of duty with such loyalty and love, that I've completely forgotten she was the loose neighbour in Caroline in the City.

Adhir Kalyan's Raja is simply superb in an Emmy winning performance (ditto with Amy Pietz) that will sadly never get recognized. It will be interesting to see him move onto Nip/Tuck, a 360 turn in moral attitudes.

As for the show, loved that Sadika, while liking Raja, was not immune to her North American upbringing, choosing to date the local boys as well, while trying to find that place between her own culture and background and her new place in America. While Raja felt betrayed, it's all a part of his learning experience in America, and those immigrant issues and emotions have rarely (if ever) been delt with in a serious (yet still sweet and funny) manner on American television.

Unfortunately, it's the last time we will see that for a while, until things turn around and a network sees the worth in showing stories that divert from the typical whitebread family life (not that that's bad since the Tolchuks are skewered and adored nicely at ths same time in this same series).

Sigh, so there it is. One season of the terrific Aliens in America, where even Scott Patterson was able to break out from his Gilmore Girls' Luke, and where Dan Byrd proved he can hold his own on a series.

Now it's time to say goodbye to the lovely folks on Men In Trees, another charming easy going show that tackles controversial issues in a light, delicate, funny and non-controversial way.

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

CBS 2008-2009 Video Previews

I realised I never posted this the other week even though I had prepared this post but as you can see from my promptness, I seem REALLY excited about these new shows don't I? Anyways, it's CBS. If I AM excited and actually like a show, they will probably cancel it anyways (and the bitterness of Love Monkey's cancellation continues).

Project Gary - I used to love Jay Mohr. What happened?

Worst Week - Um, on paper, this sounds terrible but I actually laughed and I like Kyle Bornheimer as the naked man that always seems to screw up around his girlfriends parents. Sounds like a one-note movie but seems cute if unsubstantial and could possibly be a good guilty pleasure. I do need a replacement for Reba.

The Ex-List - The show that seems the most anti-CBS and really should be on ABC or The CW, but also the one with the most potential (if only because its from one of the Veronica Mars writers).

The Eleventh Hour - "Science takes a deadly turn in this gripping new mystery drama from acclaimed producer Jerry Bruckheimer". It'll be a hit that no one talks about. I'm bored already.

The Mentalist - Simon Baker! In this? Crap. The title alone makes me want to run away.

Harper's Island (Midseason) - It's a limited series. It takes place in a cold looking watery mountained environment. It looks scary and spooky. Did Twin Peaks need to be remade? Still, I'm intrigued but ONLY because Bill Pullman is in this, and some hot looking actors who I'm sure will all be killed by the end of the series save for 3, one who will be the killer, and the other 2 the good guys that save the day. No? (Though I still think this might flame out big time).

For the FOX 2008-2009 Video Previews

For more on the 2008-2009 TV Upfronts:

Fox 2008
ABC 2008
CBS 2008
NBC 2008
The CW 2008

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The Dark I Know Well - Adding Machine, Les Liaisons Dangereuses, Misery, Spring Awakening - Theatre Reviews

Adding Machine: A Musical - Minetta Lane Theatre - Off Broadway, New York, NY
Original Music by Joshua Schmidt, Libretto by Jason Loewith and Joshua Schmidt, Based on the play The Adding Machine by Elmer Rice, Directed by David Cromer

Les Liaisons Dangereuses - Roundabout Theatre Company - American Airlines Theatre - Broadway, New York, NY
Written by Christopher Hampton, Directed by Rufus Norris

Misery - CanStage - St. Laurence Centre for the Arts Bluma Theatre - Toronto, ON
Adapted for the stage by Simon Moore based on the book by Stephen King, Directed by David Storch

Spring Awakening - Eugene O'Neill Theatre - Broadway, New York
Music by Duncan Sheik, Lyrics and Book by Steven Sater, based on the book by Frank Wedekind, Directed by Michael Mayer

I'll have a review of the uproarious Boeing-Boeing up soon, because I'll need to be reminded of laughter again.

So somehow I managed to see 4 dark shows one after another the other week and the glumness has kept me from posting about them so far. Many were good shows, just not exactly snap happy.

First off, the Off-Broadway show Adding Machine: A Musical that is getting major acclaim for sticking close to the dark surrealness of the original play. It's something that I think I would usually love, love for the twisted darkness of the story (about a loser with an annoying wife who kills his boss, ends up in the afterlife where more bizarre things happen) and how unrelenting it sticks to the original source material, but I just found it annoying and tedious the day I saw it.

Maybe it's because I was already having a morose moment, and secretly looking for something more happy and hopeful? (I like happy music when I'm depressed, depressed music when I'm happy. I'm a bit of a music masochist). There were some great surreal moments, like the office scene, the jail scene or the hilarious post-death sequence, and the finale was great.

Still, I found the songs and score to be mostly attempting at the "smart" Sondheim-like un-melodic Schoenberg-esque sound that adds layers to the musical but just added headaches in my head. The grating singing by the wife (while I know was on purpose as part of the "character") was just that, grating. I found the problem with the story was that the characters still played too closely like stereotypes, making me care very little if their miserable lives got even more miserable since they were making my life miserable. It was like watching The Honeymooners in a Twilight Zone episode.

I respected what it was trying to do and I could see why some would find it brilliant, but it just didn't do anything for me and I simply did not like it. It was too caricatured for me, even though I think that was part of story and production of Adding Machine.

Over at the American Airlines Theatre, The Roundabout Theatre Company presents Les Liaisons Dangereuses. I've never read the book or even seen the movie (or even Cruel Intentions) so I'm going in this blindly based on what I know from popular culture.

While the production is beautiful and luscious, it left me a little cold. While the tales of sex and seduction, with a terrific lead in Ben Daniels kept the production sharp and crisp, it lacked an emotional depth to really reel me in.

I came to really see Laura Linney, one of my favorite movie actresses of all time (so brilliant in You Can Count On Me, Kinsey etc. etc.), and she was good but I'm not sure it was great, especially next to Daniel's more flamboyantly perfect performance.

I was also confused by all the Counts and Madame's so got confused over who was seducing who for what reason but the final 10 seconds had a nice shocking effect that it helped resolve some of the problems I had with the play and made me rethink a lot of what I had just seen.

Back here in Toronto, CanStage ends the season with Misery, the stage adaptation of the Stephen King novel, later made iconic by the film with Kathy Bates in her Oscar winning role. Again, I had never read the book or even seen the movie, and while I'm not a fan of King's per se, I don't look down upon his stuff either. It is what it is which is fine by me.

I wish I could say more of the same for the play but it was funny when it shouldn't have been, and scary only in how hollow it all felt. Including the stilt house set that just looked cheap (or a giant origami frog if you include the roof) and made the suspenseful play seem thin and pointless.

It's almost embarrassing to watch good actors like Tom McCamus and Nicole Cavendish perform these roles that were so iconic, but they fail to add anything or even come close to fleshing out the characters in this two person play.

Thank goodness than that I got to see Spring Awakening once more with Jonathan Groff and Lea Michelle just before they finally left the show last week. While I already hear replacements Kyle Riabko and Alexandra Socha are great and have made the relationship even darker (so I'm going to have to see how that new hayloft scene turns out with the younger looking couple playing up the rape portion more than Groff and Michelle did), I LOVE Groff and Michelle in the roles and as always, they were fantastic in one of their last bouts as Melchior and Wendla.

It was interesting to see all the other new replacements (because at this point, we know Skylar Astin, Lilli Cooper and Remy Zaken are terrific). I LOVE Matt Doyle but I'm not sure if Hanschen was the best role for him, but considering that, he did a pretty great job. Blake Bashoff (Lost) has been surprisingly amazing as Moritz but Emma Hunton, while with pretty voice, wasn't quite as good as Ilse, though not bad.

Thank goodness Christine Estabrook was back as Adult Woman because no one has come close to her interpretation at this point, but it was too bad Stephen Spinella was gone because his replacement Glenn Fleshler doesn't come close, though he has improved a LOT since the last time I saw him.

I had Matt Shingledecker and Eryn Murman fill in for Brian Charles Johnson and Phoebe Strole that night, but they were pretty good. And Jesse Swenson, now famous for Jenny AND Eric's spring awakening on Gossip Girl, was sitting across the stage from my odd-numbered stage seats.

But what I loved about sitting in the stage seats was still noticing how enthralled and into the musical Jonathan Groff seemed. Even when he wasn't in on the action, he sat from the sidelines totally immersed in the story, looking like it was his first time seeing the show. I don't know if it's an act, but it was a good act and he will be surely missed (though I can't wait to see him in Hair this summer).

As for the show, you already probably know I love it since this was my 7th time. Here are the previous reviews for Spring Awakening - Original Review , My 2nd Review, My 3rd Review, My 4th Review, My 5th Review.

Okay, now I need to go watch a comedy before I go slit my wrists.

Adding Machine: A Musical - Minetta Lane Theatre - Off Broadway, New York, NY - ** (2 stars out of 5)

Les Liaisons Dangereuses - Roundabout Theatre Company - American Airlines Theatre - Broadway, New York, NY - ***1/2 (3.5 stars out of 5)

Misery - CanStage - St. Laurence Centre for the Arts Bluma Theatre - Toronto, ON - * (1 star out of 5)

Spring Awakening - Eugene O'Neill Theatre - Broadway, New York - ***** (5 stars out of 5)

For more on Spring Awakening
For my original review
See also
One Jonathan Groff To Live
One More Jonathan Groff To Live
No More Jonathan Groff To Live
Broadway Marathon
I Only Stalk Celebrities (Like Jonathan Groff) on Broadway

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