Archive for the ‘Broadway Musicals\ Plays \On Stage’ Category

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“Dance is like life, it exists as you’re flitting through it, and when it’s over, it’s done.”– Jerome Robbins

I remember this being a low budget movie back in 1987 but was a hit because of the soundtrack and coming of age drama storyline. Young rich daddy’s girl meet young hardworking man set in the summer of ‘63 to join a dirty dancing competition. The film stars Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey in the lead roles and their pairing was amazing. Aftter the movie was released Swayze went off feted and eventually filmed Ghosts with Demi Moore but Grey had a nose job that negatively affected her appearance and ultimately her career. Let’s just say it was an epic fail that she went under the knife a celebrity and came out anonymous.

I have tickets for this show but then Aerosmith came in the picture on the same date but no dramas there! I vended my tickets for half the price to bail out of it and bought another ticket for a show a week after. This musical was just a copy paste of the 80’s movie the dialogues and scenes followed the movie very closely. Though the movie was a hit 25 years ago but showing it to audiences in this era it felt so off because the characters, the lines everything seemed worn. If they have updated the theme a little more or made it current maybe it would have surprised the old and younger generation audience. The fact that they encouraged the crowd to sing and dance and be boisterous the play still lacks the oomph and pizzazz that one would expect from a show about dancing.

In one instance while watching the show after a cheesy dialogue:

Johnny Castle: No, no. Look, you’ve gotta understand what it’s like, Baby. You come from the streets and suddenly you’re up here, and these women, they are throwing themselves at ya, and they smell so good, and they really take care of themselves. I mean, I never knew women could be like that, you know? And they’re so rich, they’re so goddam rich, you think they must know about everything. And they’re slipping their room keys in my hands, two and three times day, different women. So, here I think I‘m scoring big, right? And for a while, you think, hey, they wouldn’t be doing this if they didn’t care about me, right?

Frances “Baby” Houseman: That-that’s alright, I understand. You were just using them, that’s all.

Johnny Castle: No, no that’s not it. That’s the thing, Baby, see it wasn’t like that. They were using me.

A guy from the audience in sarcastic tone shouted “NOOOOOOO WWAAAYYYYYYYYY!!!”  – The audience and the actors laughed.

I don’t want to itemized and dwell on the points of what I don’t like about this play versus the movie. All in all it wasn’t that bad but I’m still not saying that this will run for 50 years. I was entertained hearing the soundtrack again and made me realized that if dance is the outburst of the soul, music is its language. No matter how out dated the plot becomes or how corny the dialogue came to be… these songs will remain as timeless…

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Othellocover “But I will wear my heart upon my sleeve / For daws to peck at: I am not what I am.” –  Act 1, Scene 1

Othello is a tragedy by William Shakespeare written in the 16th century. The story revolves around four central characters: Othello, a Moorish general in the Venetian army; his wife, Desdemona; his lieutenant, Cassio; and so called friend Iago. Racism, love, jealousy, and betrayal were the theme of the plot.

I remember seeing this movie ‘O’ back in 2001, a loose modern adaptation of this play. I steered from anything Shakespeare, having this mindset that the Elizabethan English will bore me and that I might not be able to follow the dialogue as the writing style are heavy. But I know I have to give it a try, Shakespeare plays remain highly popular today and are constantly studied, performed, and reinterpreted in diverse cultural and political contexts throughout the world.

There’s 2 of his works that I have seen (1) The Merchant of Venice, where I was sitting in the private balcony and spent a great deal of money but was in constant blur throughout the play for it was in Nihongo. The lead actor was Tatsuya Fujiwara (stars as Light Yagami, the lead role in Death Note). I was on holiday in Japan that time and up to now I questioned myself as to how the hell my friend talked me into watching it. (2) Romeo + Juliet 1996 film directed by Baz Luhrmann. Stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, we all know the story but wait till you see this movie, though the dialogues are Elizabethan I was still blown away by the modern adaptation of it especially the last part where seconds after Romeo took the poison, he saw Juliet opened her eyes – that scene was a breath taking .

Othello is a picnic in the park, literally. The play was meant to be viewed while you are lying in the grass, drinking wine with your picnic basket on your picnic blanket. This experience of hearing Shakespeare while munching your sandwich or eating my favorite chips made me attracted to purchase the tickets and watch. Surprisingly, I was able to follow the conversation though the language was an Elizabethan and more so, it captured my attention and interest and I never slipped into ennui at all – so this is ageing! I guess my comprehension was ready for it and I’m so glad I never get to tackle Shakespeare in high school as some of the teens from the audience cursed the dialogues during the intermission and murmured ‘ I will never do Shakespeare ever!’.

All the actors were very impressive memorizing their lines and speaking their part. They’re just so awesome, especially the characters of Iago and Othello. English was their native tongue but to speak Shakespeare was a challenge and yet they pronounced it clearly and eloquently. I think they tweaked some of the words to make it comprehensible that’s what the comment by an English lady sitting at the back of me because she was also surprised that she was able to understood lucidly. Tweak or no tweak because of this play I vow never to fear Shakespeare.

What an awful, awful misfortune for the characters of this tale. Curse that devious Iago and  damn that handkerchief!!!  The lesson I learned from the story is to borrow a quote from George Macdonald ‘ To be trusted is a greater compliment than to be loved’

God of Carnage “Children consume and fracture our lives. Children drag us towards disaster, it’s unavoidable. When you see those laughing couples casting off into the sea of matrimony, you say to yourself, they have no idea, poor things, they just have no idea, they’re happy. No one tells you anything when you start out. I have an old school pal who’s just about to have a child with his new girlfriend. I said to him, “A child, at your age, are you insane?” The ten or dozen good years left to us before we get cancer or a stroke, and you’re going to bugger yourself up with some brat?” – Yasmina Reza, The God of Carnage

God of Carnage (originally Le Dieu du carnage) is a play by Yasmina Reza which won the Tony Awards in 2009 including Best Play, Best Direction of a Play, Best Performance by a Leading Actress and Lawrence Olivier Award the Best Comedy and many others. The play was a success in its original language, French, and has been equally acclaimed in its other English-translated productions in both London and New York.

It started with two 11 years old getting into an argument that ended one having two front teeth knocked out and their parents meeting up  to discuss the matter in a civilized manner. The parents were supposed to be finding out ways to handle the situation as mature adults but ended up acting childish about the whole thing thus, the evening goes on into chaos because instead of progressing and making the situation better they just degraded themselves and made the situation worst.  Fitting for the extreme title as Yasmina Reza, the writer of this play adopted the word ‘Carnage’ to allude to the violent and childish human nature.salonggod4

A one scene, single setting play and the whole conversation and everything that occurred in that time frame revolved around trying to resolve their kid’s issues in a diplomatic manner. But since both parents having their own multiple layers of characters as high-class, politically correct, and snooty characters, even their own issues tangled in the situation they are trying to resolve as their emotional buttons are pressed along the conversation. It was under 90 minutes but I was amazed with how the actors memorized their line with no breaks or scene changes. It’s not like you can shout ‘cut!’ when one of them faltered. It was flawless but then again if anyone made mistakes I reckoned no one in the audience could have pointed it out because everything was so natural- the cast does exceptionally well in their respective roles and all you can do was watch as their verbal battle unravels their dark sides.

Just because Lea Salonga was in it I kept on reminding myself that this is not a musical so there’s no need to expect belting her pipes for the evening.

“Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better? But because I knew you I have been changed for good” – For Good lyrics – Glinda and Elphaba

I have a confession to make, I reached this matured age never knowing the story of The Wizard Oz. I’m just familiar with the characters and the yellow brick road but never really understood how the full story goes. I heard of this Wicked musical while vacation in LA and watching Glee…sing, sing, sing… but it never really moved me to purchase a ticket and sit my ass off to watch it, I opted for the NBA game in Staples Centre instead.

Don’t get me wrong, I love musical ever since Ms Saigon, I tried to watch as much as I can and I liked them all. When Wicked arrived in Singapore I have to comply to experience firsthand what the fuss was about.

We arrived late and missed the opening scene (The curse of the Ms Saigon strikes again!) but I am not my usual frantic self and regretting my tardiness because I have missed a great deal. I am just ‘unaffected’ as I can be. After having dozed off from watching The Lion King musical https://ellehctur.wordpress.com/2011/03/30/lion-king-the-musical/ at matinee, I reckoned my eyes will betray me and steal some nap time from this one again.

I came late but not unprepared, I have done my homework.  When I heard the this musical was based on the Gregory Maguire novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (1995), a parallel novel of the film The Wizard of Oz,  I watched the 1939 film finally but sad to say I didn’t liked it a bit, I’m not expecting a hi tech cinematography from a 72 year old movie but  knowing the storyline was shallow – the witch was killed accidentally by a pale of water and the great wizard of Oz was just a man that will ride a big balloon to go back to Texas was a boooo! Thus, I am not expecting much. But lo and behold I found myself wide awake and laughing to all the unexpected witty dialogues. I was hooked with Elphaba, the misunderstood girl with emerald-green skin, and Galinda, later Glinda, the beautiful, ambitious and popular blonde. Suddenly, ‘defying gravity’ sounds better than watching Glee. This ‘chick flick’ musical was really enjoyable and we were all blown away by the fantastic musical, sheer power vocal cords and openness of the actors.

Kudos to the revisionist author Gregory Maguire for retelling a story with substantial alterations in character or environment, to “revise” the view shown in the original work. I actually appreciate Wizard of Oz because of this stage prequel, which tells the back-story of the good witch Glinda, and of her malevolent green-faced rival, Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West.

I will watch this again and this time I won’t be late!

“Shiver and quiver, little tree, Silver and gold throw down over me.” – Ashputtel (Cinderella), The Brothers Grimm

Last July 21, 2011 my friends and I watched a local play entitled Grimm Tales. I was captured by the poster plus the fact that my friends are into fairy tales and Disney’s. Anyways tickets is reasonable so might as well entertain ourselves.

Every time I heard of the last name Grimm it reminded me of these movies – The Brothers Grimm (2005) which stars Matt Damon and Heath Ledger, the story is more like a medieval ghost busters where the brother and his crew protect townsfolk from enchanted creatures by performing exorcisms. It’s all a hoax as their group are con artists pretending to help villagers rid of the monsters of their own doing until they came to this village where they encounter a real  curse in a haunted forest with real magical beings, that’s when they had to step up to the plate and aid the townspeople. The other one is this Drew Barrymore movie, Ever After (1998).  Having admired the new collection of tales from the Grimm brothers, the Dame of France summoned the siblings to probed about their story of the little cinder girl. Apparently the dame was dissatisfied of the story and when the brothers retort that there are too many versions of the tale to authenticate it, she reveal a glass shoe that had belonged to an ancestral blood line named Danielle de Barbarac and proceeds to narrate her true version of the story.

Jakob Ludwig Karl Grimm (also Karl) and Wilhelm Karl Grimm were born on 4 January 1785 and 24 February 1786 respectively, in Germany. They introduced us to Cinderella, a folk tale embodying a myth-element of unjust oppression and triumphant reward that has been passed on from generations to generation. They are among the best-known story tellers of European folk tales, and their work popularized such stories as Cinderella, The Frog Prince, Hansel and Gretel, Rapunzel, Rumpelstiltskin, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White. Jacob and Wilhelm were really just focused on researching linguistics, and the famous Grimm tales are simply a by-product of the research. On December 20, 1812, they published the first volume of the first edition, containing 86 stories; the second volume of 70 stories followed in 1814. For the second edition, two volumes were issued in 1819 and a third in 1822, totalling 170 tales. The Grimm brothers are responsible for not only fairy tales, but several other works including writings on linguistics, folklore, and a detailed German dictionary.

This play features the following tales from their awesome book –  The Musicians of Bremen, Ashputtel (Cinderella), The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage, The Golden Goose, The Hare and the Hedgehog, Hansel and Gretel, The Magic Table, The Gold-Donkey and the Cudgel in the Sack. The characters played by college students, watching it brought me back in high school when I had to participate in a drama-class as part of the curriculum. The props are modest but the actors maximized the use of it and the rest is up to the audience’s playful imagination. There are only a dozen of actors or less, they just switched role for every story. The presentation varies, like in The Mouse, the Bird and the Sausage – shadow puppets were used for the performance. If you have ever made hand shadows (used your hands to make shadows that look like animals, etc.) on the wall or have seen shadows cast by a flashlight on a camping tent wall then you already have an idea of how shadow puppets work. The rest are played with storytellers (but no drama, they just sit there narrating casually as if telling events to their friends) and characters dialogue which I think this combination is a brilliant style for presenting, because back in high school we never thought of this style –it’s always pure dialog.The diction was clear and some of the actors are really into character and really stood-out for their part to think they have multiple roles.  In Hansel and Gretel – as the 2 kids was left in the forest the narrator uttered … and  they waited, and waited, and waited… the 2 actors didn’t stand there like a statue, every time the narrator uttered the word’ waited’ these kids pose in different position so as to give audience a feel of them waiting for a long time. I think my favorite was their performance in Ashputtel – the part when she left her slippers- everyone was moving in slow motion and to insinuate that she left her slippers the prince has to point it with a comedic face. The crowd was actually roaring in laughter in this scene. Seeing this play makes me want to see more of the local arts,  It was all good stuff and worth my time c”,)…Awesome!

“The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or… learn from it.” – Rafiki to Simba

Shoot me now! Not because I dozed off nearing the highlights of the show,  it’s because I was late again and missed the opening of The Lion King Musical (the curse of Ms Saigon strikes again). I lose consciousness in the part where they are singing “Can you feel the love tonight” and I missed the “Circle of life” portion of the show. My friend can’t imagine how I can sleep when the air-condition in the Marina bay sucked- big time!  I was perspiring like I was part of the act and performed in the musical when I’m just seated there watching (err… sleeping) –   Was it because Lion King’s broad way musical theme was African? — the theater was humid.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying this broad way musical sucked because it sends me to oblivion. For your information,  I woke up very early that morning and didn’t get any snooze in the afternoon as I was out the whole day. I wanted to see this show, it’s highly recommended by a friend of mine who watched it twice in different cities, Toronto and NY. I fought a hard battle with my eyelids before I passed out. I tried to keep my eyes open though I can feel my senses going, going…gone … the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.

Anyway, it was my loss… but on with the show… Lion King was a grand musical that will fill your senses and make you feel like you are right there in Africa!! (Probably that’s why the air condition is off). Honestly, this is an awesome show they manage to transformed the cartoon movie into a real broad way musical. The props, costumes, puppets are intelligently crafted and imaginatively prepared to capture the  wild’s perspective for the audience in a standard size stage play. The story line is the same as the movie so the characters- Simba, Timon, Pumba, and Uncle Scar, was still intact. The scenic effects are almost beyond description – The scenes that wowed me was the stampede, the dramatic fall effect of Simba’s father and Scar’s dialogue “Long live the king.” The animals walking in the horizon coming near in full view was just awesome and excellent! The actors and mask/puppets was clearly visible to the audience, it was a visual feast indeed! The ensemble were spectacular and the entire cast had amazing vocals. The stand-up comedy humour was a big plus, I know it’s an international act but they have inserted local dialogues to make the act funny and the jokes hilarious so Singapore audience can relate.

All I can say about this show was simply spectacular – show was totally enthralling, cast, stage, costumes were absolutely amazing… I will love to see it again… I have to…

“I try not to worry about what that`s going to look like. If you worry about looking stupid, that`s when you look really stupid.” – Rob Schneider

It was a last minute decision for me to buy the ticket for a stand-up comedy show that happened to be in town for one night only. There are only individual seats left but I head on to buy it anyway because I kept thinking I will regret this if I let this pass. I hate procrastinating if eventually I go for it anyway.  I should have bought the tickets ahead of time so I wouldn’t have to go to this show alone. I’m not so sure what made me deferring, I wasn’t contemplating on the ticket price duh! It’s Rob Schneider, his a Hollywood star, his worth every penny. Probably, it’s because I’m not a big fan and I only like his one movie “The Hot Chick” and the rest was just slapstick. But I’m really curious and intrigue as to what he can do on a live performance but I must say the outcome was not disappointment at all.

This 48 year old comedian/scriptwriter is half Filipino and half Jew and grew up in San Francisco. I have seen most of his films and I know his mother always made cameo appearances in it, playing a cheerleading contest judge in The Hot Chick, a restaurant patron in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, and a nosy neighbour in The Animal.  Schneider was first hired at Saturday Night Live in 1988, and was the first Asian-American to be a cast member on the show. He was a good friend of actor Adam Sandler and he starred in many of Sandler’s films, including 50 First Dates (2004) and Grown-Ups (2010). Just like his mom in his movies he also shows up in Adam Sandler’s movies and oftentimes broke out lines like “You can do it!” from 1998 movie The Water boy.

The show started by three amateur Singapore-based comedians. Schneider, being a fan of comedy wanted to give local comedians a chance to perform on the big stage.  presentation wise, though the three are substandard they are more than acceptable as they managed to carry the 1400 audience in Rock Auditorium and made all of us laughed. Then its Rob Schneider turn the crowd was roaring. He complained of being a midget because he was really short in person. I like the fact that he kept telling his audience his half Filipino and make fun how his mother speaks and picks up the English dirty word that she heard from him and his brother when fighting and used it against them and how growing up as a half Filipino and half Jew their house smells like soy sauce and holocaust.

He tackles lots of things like politics “Obama had a plan: Change! Yes, take all the dollars we have and turn them into change!” and made fun of himself and being in Singapore “This place is so clean, the only thing dirty is my act.”, “How do you know that teen-age Singaporean broke into your house? They answered your math homework for you.” He also imitated Adam Sandler at one point and it sounded exactly like him and do medley of his famous movie-role catchphrases.

“Life doesn’t make any sense, and we all pretend it does. Comedy’s job is to point out that it doesn’t make sense, and that it doesn’t make much difference anyway.”– I love comedy, the timing, the clever monologue it’s really an art of making people laugh but I don’t find slapsticks comedy as humorous. I have admiration for those people who can deliver those clever dialogues and quick-witted remarks. There never was a boring moment in an evening with Rob Schneider he was very entertaining to watch indeed.

Schneider Facts:

  1. Name: Rob Schneider  ; Date of Birth: October 31, 1963 ; Place of Birth:  San Francisco, California, USA
  2. He recently released his first comedy album Registered Offender to coincide with the tour.
  3. In 1996, Schneider established the “Rob Schneider Music Foundation.” The foundation returned music education to Pacifica’s elementary schools by paying the teachers’ salaries and providing funds for instruments and other equipment. Prior to Schneider’s efforts, the school system had done without music education programs for many years.
  4. Schneider once co-owned the DNA Lounge, a San Francisco nightclub.
  5. Schneider is an environmentalist. He drives a Toyota Prius hybrid automobile, and served as host for the 13th annual Environmental Media Awards in 2004.