Posts Tagged ‘theater’

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.

curious-incident-dogThe family went to the Wednesday, November 23, 8 p.m. showing of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time at Proctors Theatre in Schenectady. It won the 2015 Tony Award for Best New Play, and is now on its first North American tour. Simon Stephens has adapted Mark Haddon’s best-selling novel.

Fifteen-year-old Christopher is extraordinarily intelligent, but has difficulty with everyday life. “When he falls under suspicion for killing his neighbor’s dog, he sets out to identify the true culprit, which leads to an earth-shattering discovery and a journey that will change his life forever.”

Though the words Read the rest of this entry »

polina1Thursday, November 12, my long-time friend Karen, who lives in New York City, emails me that Michael Viktor Butler is premiering a play called Polina (poh-LEE-nah) the next evening and that she’s coming up to see it. In Albany. About three and a half blocks from my house, at the Madison Theatre, primarily, but not solely, a movie house.

Michael and I know each other very peripherally, but he, who was a friend of one of Karen’s older siblings, became a muse to Karen, as he ran the experimental television in Binghamton in the mid-1970s, before returning to NYC himself, and she’s kept in touch with him.

I had no idea about this production until I perused this description on the movie theater’s website: Read the rest of this entry »

Putin on the RIZLast Week Tonight with John Oliver: Stadiums, a ripoff for taxpayers; bail; and poisonous mandatory minimum prison sentence.

Laci Green (no relation): Systemic Racism for Dummies.

Muslim Groups Step In To Help Black Churches Burned In Wave Of Arson.

Why it’s never ‘the right time’ to discuss gun control.

Wil Wheaton: living with depression and anxiety.

Jeff Sharlet: I went to Skid Row to report on Charly “Africa” Keunang, “an unarmed homeless man held down and shot six times by Los Angeles police. Read the rest of this entry »

boys in the bandWhen I was a janitor in Binghamton City Hall, cleaning up after the cops, and living in my Grandma Williams’ shack of a house, there was very little to look forward to. I’d see my friend Carol a couple times a week, and a good thing too, because I would have been totally crazy otherwise.

My sister Leslie was in town, but she was busy in college and spending time with her boyfriend Eric, whom she would marry on Halloween of that year, 1975.

She was also in a couple plays, including “A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Forum,” at the Civic Theater. The lead in this play was a guy named Charlie. Read the rest of this entry »

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