It never truly feels like Christmas for me unless there’s some kind of musical event in either the television or film world. Whether it’s a new movie musical for Hollywood or another one of those live musicals on TV (via NBC or FOX), a big part of my Christmas tradition nowadays is a new musical to watch and enjoy right before the big holiday. This year was no exception, bringing two musicals to my eyeballs. FOX just aired A Christmas Story Live! this past weekend (with a book by Robert Cary and Jonathan Tolins and music and lyrics by the songwriting duo Pasek and Paul) and 20th Century Fox is releasing a new movie musical about P.T. Barnum (of Barnum and Bailey Circus fame) directed by Michael Gracey, with a screenplay by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon and music and lyrics by Pasek and Paul. You might have noticed a theme there with both of this year’s big, new musical offerings: they both feature the music of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Fresh off their recent success with Broadway’s Dear Evan Hansen, Pasek and Paul have written original lyrics and music for The Greatest Showman as well as composing a new song for the live telecast of their 2012 Broadway musical A Christmas Story. (Also of note: one of last year’s big musical offerings, La La Land, also featured the lyrics of Pasek and Paul.) So with Pasek and Paul taking over my screens in both of the big new filmed musical offerings, I thought it worthwhile to give my thoughts on the soundtrack for The Greatest Showman (I haven’t seen the movie yet), FOX’s telecast of A Christmas Story Live!, and my general thoughts on the music of Pasek and Paul. (more…)
This past week, the Tony Award-winning musical Matilda: the Musical played the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts in Raleigh, NC and the cast and crew filled the room with rebellion and magic. With a book by Dennis Kelly and music and lyrics by comedian Tim Minchin, Matilda the Musical tells the story of Matilda Wormwood (Jaime Maclean, at my performance), a young, smart, book-obsessed girl raised by abusive parents who is sent to a school, run by the evil Ms. Trunchball (Dan Chameroy), and discovers she possesses magical powers. Based on the classic novel by Roald Dahl, Matilda: the Musical aims to remind us all that sometimes we have to be a little bit naughty in life, and that’s okay! (Note: pictures may not be from the current tour; I had to make do with what I could find. (more…)
There is a popular theory that all of human history is cyclical; we are destined to repeat the same cycles over and over again. This idea is explored, somewhat, in Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award-winning playwright Robert Schenkkan’s new play Building the Wall. Part post-apocalyptic warning and part prison conversation, Building the Wall tells the story of one potential future of America based on the rhetoric of President Trump and the successful implementation of his anti-immigration policies. Following a devastating terror attack in Times Square, martial law is enacted, giving Trump essentially unlimited power to round up and detain immigrants as he sees fit. One man, Rick, works at one of these detention facilities and his actions echo the actions of Nazi Germany, leading to the eventual impeachment of the president and arrest of Rick. The play tells Rick’s story through a conversation between Rick and historian Gloria. Note: this review is based solely on the script. I have not actually seen the play, and who knows if I ever will. (more…)
Something Rotten is an original musical by Wayne and Karey Kirkpatrick and John O’Farrell about two brothers, Nick (Rob McClure) and Nigel (Josh Grisetti), struggling to make a name for themselves in Renaissance England. But how can these two writers manage to compete with the Bard, himself, William Shakespeare (usually Adam Pascal, but his understudy, Daniel Beeman, played Shakespeare at my performance)? Naturally, the only thing that could compete with Shakespeare is a musical! The musical follows the Bottom brothers as they struggle to write a musical good enough to be better than William Shakespeare’s plays.
First things first: I love this musical. It was my favorite musical featured in the 2015 Tony Awards. I think it’s a funny, moving, well-written show with spectacular music. So this review won’t really be covering parts of the musical, rather it will deal with the performance I attended (April 8, 2017, matinee) and how that particular performance went.