Posts Tagged ‘Capital Rep’

I’m really surprised that I was totally unaware of She Loves Me, the musical that my wife, my daughter and I saw at Capital Rep in Albany on Christmas Eve. I recognized only one song, the title tune.

It was first performed on Broadway in 1963, with the late, legendary Barbara Cook in the lead role of Amalia and a guy named Daniel Massey, son of Raymond Massey of Dr. Kildare fame, as Georg. The lecherous Steven was played by Jack Cassidy, father of David and Shaun. There have been three revivals, most recently in 2016.

Moreover, the music was by Jerry Bock and the lyrics by Sheldon Harnick, the composers of my second-favorite musical ever, Fiddler on the Roof. She Loves Me is based on a 1937 play called Parfumerie by Hungarian writer Miklos Laszlo.

Before She Loves Me, there was the 1940 movie The Shop Around the Corner with Margaret Sullavan and James Stewart. Then was the movie In the Good Old Summertime (1949) with Judy Garland and Van Johnson, music by George Stoll and Robert Van Eps. The 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail, with Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan, mines the same basic plot.

And that is: guy meets gal, who pretty much dislike each other from the get-go, as she is hired to work in the perfume shop where he’s been working for a decade and a half. Yet they’ve been corresponding fervently through a lonely-hearts club.

The Cap Rep production featured a nifty set, terrific costumes, and great, often stylish songs that generally advance the plot.

Amalia is played by actress Julia Barrows. Independently, my wife and I decided that she reminded us a little of Cate Blanchett physically. In the story from the local paper, Barrows said she first saw She Loves Me at a performing arts high school that her older sister attended.

“I have always wanted to do this show,” she said. “It’s the musical that made me fall in love with theaterand say, ‘This is what I want to do with my life.'” And it showed.

We go to the theater a fair amount, but the first half of April 2017 was quite the outlier.

Sunday, April 2: The Little Mermaid – Catskill High School (three of us)

One of my nieces was in her fifth production, and the three of us have seen them all. This was her largest role yet, playing Flounder. She was quite good, actually, and I say this not out of familial loyalty.

In general the girls were better singers than the boys. Ariel’s sisters were fine as were Ursula’s assistants. But the hits were Sebastian (Edward Donahue), Ariel (Ade Spencer) and especially Ursula (Anna White).

Thursday, April 6: The Sound of Music – Proctors Theatre, Schenectady (three of us)

Proctors has had Broadway-quality productions for a number of years, and this was no exception. The trick with the musical is that the movie is so imprinted in the brain. My Favorite Thing is sung at the abbey, Do-Re-Mi at the Trapp villa, and The Lonely Goatherd in Maria’s bedroom, when she calms the children freaked out by the thunderstorm.

While the two leads (Charlotte Maltby, Nicholas Rodriguez) are fine, and the children are amazingly good, the largest applause went to Melody Betts as Mother Superior after she sang Climb Ev’ry Mountain.

We bought tickets for next season’s shows, including Fun Home, The Color Purple, Finding Neverland and On Your Feet! (the Gloria Estafan story). Buying a subscription THIS year will mean getting dibs on buying toicxkets for Hamilton in 2018-2019.

(Only somewhat off topic: Alison Bechdel is Vermont’s cartoonist laureate. She created Fun Home.)

Saturday, April 8, 2017: They Built America: The Workers of the Erie Canal – local school (two of us)

This is a Capital Rep show commemorating the 200th anniversary of the groundbreaking of the engineering feat that went from Albany to Buffalo. “Meet the real men, women and children, the politicians, farmers, merchants and laborers who…[built] the Erie Canal.” There are four actors, and three of them, the two men and one of the women, play multiple parts. It was quite good, about an hour long and suitable for children.

The Daughter should have come.

Sunday, April 9: Oliver! – Albany High School (two of us)

This was, aside from some occasional sound problems, extraordinarily good. I was’t familiar with the story, though I sang Consider Yourself in glee club in high school. It’s a dark, sordid, violent tale.

The standout were the terrifying Bill Sykes (Ackazemas Myers), the show-stopping singer Nancy (Williemae Fiddemon), and the shifty Fagen (Raphael Cohen), who had a fun bit with the violinist in the orchestra. Oliver was played by sixth-grader Hassan Laing who was good, but occasionally miked badly.

Saturday, April 15: Beautiful: the Carole King Story – Proctors Theatre, Schenectady (two of us)

I saw this on the calendar months ago and said, Who scheduled this for Holy Week?” It’s only on the Wednesday through Sunday. I have to sing or rehearse or travel the other days. Based on the packed house for this matinee, many folks wee in the same boat.

Just from casual conversation with the folks around the Wife and me, it was clear that almost everyone knew the Tapestry album from 1971 but few were familiar with the songwriting of Carole King (the wonderful Julia Knitel) with husband Gerry Goffin (Liam Tobin) well before that, competing to get their songs pitched to the right singer or group that might make their songs #1.

As Greg Haymes noted in Nippertown: “‘Beautiful’ could have easily been nothing more than another cliched jukebox musical gathering together the hits by songwriters of the Brill Building era, i.e., ‘Smokey Joe’s Cafe’ (Leiber and Stoller) or ‘Leader of the Pack’ (Ellie Greenwich). But thanks to some smart, comic dialogue by Douglas McGrath, deft direction by Marc Bruni and strong, all-around performances by the cast, ‘Beautiful’ is a snappy musical that rises above the level of the usual jukebox musical expectations.

“But it’s not all about King, and the title of the show is something of a misnomer. The secondary couple – portraying the songwriting team of Cynthia Weil (Erika Olson) and Barry Mann (Ben Fankhauser) – and their music is crucial.”

Yes, it wasn’t just a Kingfest, as the early “1650 Broadway Medley” had songs from Neil Sedaka (singer of “Oh, Carol”), Leiber and Stoller, Phil Spector and many others. The Mann/Weil hit You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling was a standout.

But Act 2 belonged to the former Carole Klein. I LOVED this show.

Arthur could hardly find any questions at all to ask me for Ask Roger Anything:

What the hell should we call the Orange Guy? I personally don’t want to use his surname, title, or anything else that would indicate respect for him that I don’t have. What’s the alternative(s) without being too childish?

I think this is a personal decision. I’ve seen Drumpf (based on the family name) which carries over to the proto-Nazi activities such as vilifying the press, and I briefly used that, but it’s a pain to spell. Others drop the T from the surname and refer to him as Rump because he’s such an ass.

I was quite taken Read the rest of this entry »

skd283131sdcIt’s peculiar that I hardly ever write about plays and musicals, given the fact that I go to them quite often, at various venues.

One great location is Proctors Theatre in Schenectady, pretty much the next city over from Albany, in the once a rundown vaudeville house that’s now a refurbished gem. Shows that had been on Broadway and are now touring show up here. It holds about 2700 patrons.

The Wife and I saw at least two shows in the 2010-11 season:
February 2011: Lion King. Astonishing, starting with the entrances from throughout the theater
May 2011: Hair. The story doesn’t age well, but it was still fun, with a lot of talented vocalists.
Read the rest of this entry »

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