Archive for the ‘Broadway Show’ Category

The Book of Mormon

It’s a little late in the game to be reviewing The Book of Mormon; it opened well over two years ago, and I just got to see it last night. So this very successful and original show doesn’t need my stamp of approval. But I do have to say-it is brilliant and funny. The cast is amazing. It is the funniest evening I’ve had in a long, long time.

With  so many Broadway shows designed to appeal to tourists and children, I’m thrilled that there is a sophisticated, adult option available. I can’t imagine that this will ever play in Peoria, but it’s a fabulous Broadway experience! Thanks so much to the creators of South Park who believed so much in this production and were able to bring it to Broadway.Book-Of-Mormon-Playbill-02-11

The Book of Mormon (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Follies

It’s been ages since I’ve been able to write a review of a Broadway show. Unfortunately, Broadway ticket prices have become so high that it really is a once in a blue moon treat. I was privileged to receive the tickets for Follies as a gift. Actually the tickets were originally for a preview performance in August, but that was cancelled when all Broadway shows were shut down in advance of Hurricane Irene. So we were “re-ticketed” (a new word for me, but a good one) and got to see the show after its actual opening.

I knew a few basics about the plot and music of Follies. It originally played on Broadway in 1971. It is classic Stephen Sondheim with complex characters and sophisticated, modern music. Even though it takes place in 1971, the themes are as current as they could be.

Bernadette Peters is the top-billed star, but there are really four stars with equally important roles. Even a number of the peripheral characters have important lines/songs. Peters plays a part that is a bit younger than she actually is, but she pulls it off. She is an extraordinarily talented actress and singer.

The role of Sally Durant seems to have been made for Peters. Sally is a former “Weismann Girl”. She was a cast member of the “Weismann Follies”; a long-running theater troupe. The story of Follies opens when Mr. Weismann holds a reunion at the aging theater where his Follies played for many years. The theater is about to be torn down to make room for a parking lot, and Weismann wishes to pay tribute to the heyday of his theater.

Sally and her husband Buddy attend the reunion, along with Phyllis Rogers, another Weismann girl who was Sally’s roommate and best friend during their Follies years. Phyllis’ husband Ben was Buddy’s friend, and there is a lot of history between the two couples. It is re-visited through flashbacks, where the roles are played by other actors. Yes, it may sound confusing when eight people on stage are playing four roles at the same time, but it works.

If you love the theater, and especially if you enjoy a play about the theater, then I highly recommend this production of Follies.

Follies (New Broadway Cast Recording)

Fela!

I was very excited that a friend was able to get tickets for us to see this new musical. It tells the story of the late Nigerian musician Fela Anikulapo-Kuti. In addition to being an innovative musician, Fela was politically active, and fought the corrupt Nigerian government. Fela was arrested and tortured many times, but he continued to use his notoriety and his music to expose governmental excess and abuse.

Fela! is more than a musical biography.  It is a groundbreaking work of art. Most of the music and lyrics are Fela’s own, with some additional music written for the show. Kuti was a pioneer of the Afrobeat style of music. Accompanied by spectacular dancing and instrumentals, this exciting show is non-stop action.

The role of Fela is so demanding that two actors alternate performing the lead. We saw Kevin Mambo in the role of Fela. I have no doubt that Sahr Ngaujah is equally talented, and I’d return to see him play this part.

Fela! is fun, exciting, and heartbreaking. It moves theater a giant leap forward from the current crop of remakes and Disney musicals that dominate Broadway.

Open & Close/Afrodisiac