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Broadway Banter - Summer 2011

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May 31st, 2011, 05:49 AM
  #1
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Broadway Banter - Summer 2011

For all who attend Broadway theater; for all who love to read about, talk, discuss, and share info about NY theater, this is the place for you. Welcome to the summer of 2011 on Broadway!
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May 31st, 2011, 08:34 AM
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Hi, informed NYer
Well I have booked 'Hair' for the 21st of July I think. But I would love to go to see 'How to Succeed' the on the Sun matinee performance the weekend before. There is a ticket left for the top right hand corner for a really cheap price ($56) but obviously I think there is something wrong with the seat for such a cheap price. Anyone care to fill me in on why this seat is so cheap? Does it have an obstructed view etc?
I was just wondering should I go ahead and buy it anyway?
Thanking you

Good idea for the new trend, I love reading them =)
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May 31st, 2011, 08:58 AM
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I, a native New Yorker, go into the city on a regular basis for theater. I recently saw a show that was touted as one of the best revival dramas - Arcadia.

I just could not get my arms around this plot.
Although it was interesting how the scenes switched from present to past, there was so much dialogue that I could not understand, I had to Google the show when I got home so I could learn what the basic plot was about.
I eventually got used to the voice of the actress playing the young girl, but I found it to be quite annoying.
I almost left after the first act, but my husband hates doing that. It was a good thing because the 2nd act was better.
Even so, I did not particularly enjoy the play.

I plan to see Donna Murphy this weekend in The People in the Picture.

ArtyJones - am not quite sure what you mean by the "top right hand corner".
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May 31st, 2011, 09:05 AM
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Sorry, I did not explain myself very clearly, Its obvious its my first time in NY this summer!
I mean that the ticket is row s right up next to the stage but next to side aisle. I was just wondering if I would be able to see? If so, why is it so cheap on Broadwaybox? And if it wasnt full, because its the matinee could I move to better seat or is this unlikely for a production like this in the summer?

Also do many people go to theater alone? Thank you
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May 31st, 2011, 10:32 AM
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Arty - it looks like row s is the last row in the mezzanine. 'A' or 'AA' is the first row. Go to playbill.com, click on 'Broadway' on left, click on the name of the show, then click on seating chart on the upper right of page. If it is, in fact, the last row of the mezz, I would pass.
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May 31st, 2011, 10:33 AM
  #6
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Arty - yes, people do frequently go to shows alone. When the lights dim, it's totally irrelevant when you're with a group or solo. Just enjoy
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May 31st, 2011, 06:27 PM
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If you go on your own you can often get a seat at an otherwise sold out show.
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Jun 2nd, 2011, 06:40 AM
  #8
TC
 
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In NY now for a few shows this week. Saw Anything Goes last night. While Sutton is a powerhouse, the show just didn't "grab" me in the way I thought it would. The set is very static, costumes are lovely evening wear, voices good, dancing a bit weak in places......all in all, it just didn't wow me.

Will also see Priscilla, War Horse, Bengal Tiger, Catch Me if You Can.

More later.
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Jun 3rd, 2011, 06:42 AM
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TC, the dancing is "weak" in places in Anything Goes?
I found that show to be the most effective dance show in years and a nearly perfect revival and yours seems to be the first negative comment I've heard regarding the show's DANCE! What dance numbers seemed "weak" to you -- certainly not the title song -- the finale of Act I? And I'll be totally shocked if you find the dance in Priscilla or Catch Me if You Can better than Anything Goes dancing! Of course, a nearly 80 year old show isn't everyone's cup of tea, and I'm never surprised when people mention the "old fashioned and too simple story" or even the "corny" jokes, but as a top notch revival of a classic "old" musical, I'm amazed it failed you.
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Jun 3rd, 2011, 09:46 AM
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Agreed 100%. We saw Anything Goes this past Sunday and it was terrific. A classic Broadway musical comedy. Memorable songs still familiar after almost 80 years, extraordinarily energetic dancing, unlike "anything" else currently on Broadway. And not a cable, body double, explosion, roller skate, or chandelier to be seen. How about that?
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Jun 3rd, 2011, 01:18 PM
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I’m back from a wonderful four days in NYC. The only shows I REALLY wanted to see were “Book of Mormon” and “War Horse.” Since I wasn’t about to pay what it would have cost to snag those tix, that left two options: 1) standing room, or 2) the ticket lottery. “War Horse” offers neither of these options, so that wasn’t going to happen.

The first time, I arrived at the theater for “The Book of Mormon” at 3:30PM – and there were 24 people ahead of me waiting to buy standing room tix. There are (25) standing room spots – and 23 of the people ahead of me planned to buy two tix (which is the max). I did the math and accepted that it was hopeless. I waited for the lottery. I didn’t win. Maybe I’d used up all my lottery luck when DP won us front row center for Idina Menzel’s final performance of “Wicked.”

FYI, the people at the front of the SRO line had arrived at 10 AM.

We headed to the Times Square TKTS booth around 5 PM. There were lots of shows available, but not the ones near the top of my list. I was shocked to find the line quite short. Five minutes later, with great trepidation we went for “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.” I figured it would be awful, but I would forever be able to say that I saw the biggest, most-expensive flop in B’way history. Besides, at 50% off for 8th row orchestra, my curiosity won out.

The retooled version had opened in previews less than a week earlier—and I’d heard nothing about it. Well, someone in line told me that the major problems had all been fixed.

The opening was breathtaking. Wow! I thought, “This is going to be amazing!” It quickly sank, with the lame, unnecessary number about bullying. And I was struggling to understand the lyrics sung by Arachne and Peter. I heard everyone else perfectly. The problem seemed to be the timbre of their voices—not the sound system. But wait … it picked up again and was mostly REALLY good! There were a couple of fantastic songs and phenomenal visual effects. We left at intermission surprised to be really liking it.

Was not crazy about the 2nd act opening … and why was the Arachne even there? The character seemed superfluous—but did have good songs. Wait … But then … it picked up again. Oh, if only they’d let me come in and cut three numbers and tighten up the story, I could save the day!

Bottom line – we really liked it. The flying/fight sequence was OMG incredible. Most of the songs were good—and some were terrific. The ending made everyone cheer. The audience clearly loved it. I didn’t “LOVE” it – but I definitely enjoyed it (much more than expected) and I think with a few more tweaks, it could run for a decade or more, thrilling audiences. What a nice surprise!!!

Our second attempt at “Book of Mormon” standing room tix was for the Saturday matinee. I arrived before 9:30 AM – and it was worse than the previous time. It wasn’t meant to be. (sniff, sniff)

We LOVED John Leguizamo’s “Ghetto Klown.” 50% off at TKTS—again virtually NO wait. (Maybe three people ahead of us in line.) 4th row, dead center orchestra. The writing and performance were equally excellent. Very memorable and powerful.

Lastly, “My Big Gay Italian Wedding.” Again, 50% off at TKTS – and again, no line. It was fun, and we laughed a lot—but I wouldn’t call it “great.”

Slightly off the topic, but we saw the “Harry Potter” and “Pompeii” exhibits. “Harry” was mobbed and not set up well. It was okay—but not great. “Pompeii” was terrific.”

Watching the crowds in Central Park who showed up to see Lady GaGa was a whole different kind of theater.

That’s the scoop! It was a wonderful trip—and I’ll post a report that covers the “non-theatrical” aspects.
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Jun 6th, 2011, 07:06 PM
  #12
 
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Centralparkgirl - I hope you don't mind me asking about an off-Broadway production. Has anyone seen Freud's Last Session? I'd appreciate any feedback. Thanks!
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Jun 6th, 2011, 09:29 PM
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Saw Priscilla last Friday night. It is thoroughly entertaining, wildly funny, and the costumes will make you laugh out loud. A raucous, fun play.
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Jun 7th, 2011, 04:54 AM
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a friend of mine LOVED Freud's Last Session.
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Jun 7th, 2011, 07:58 AM
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I'll also put in a good word for Freud's Last Session. Very engaging, thought provoking, interesting premise. They have scheduled talk-backs after some of the performances in case that interests you.
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Jun 7th, 2011, 05:50 PM
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Songdoc and spring212 - thanks for the feedback. I haven't seen any off-Broadway shows but will add that to my list. Hubby said he wants to see something other than musicals this summer.
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Jun 8th, 2011, 07:46 AM
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I thoroughly enjoyed Freud's Last Session.
It is in a very small, intimate theater where you really can connect with the 2 actors on stage.
The subject was interesting and the acting superb.

By the way - I just saw People in the Picture - outstanding!!!
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Jun 10th, 2011, 07:25 AM
  #18
TC
 
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Our recent trip to Broadway was great -- some things better than others. Following are the rankings done by one of our traveling companions (he's the theater buff in the group). For the most part I totally agree with his assessments, although he liked Bengal Tiger more than I did. Take the information as just our personal opinion -- no more, no less.

Baby It's You -- Pleasant but uninspired jukebox musical about Florence Greenberg who was the only female record company owner in the 50s and 60s.  Her big acts were the Shirelles and Dionne Warwick.  Fun for those of us old enough to remember the music, and ever single person in the audience was.  Grade: C

Jerusalem -- Outstanding epic drama.  Mark Rylance gives one the best performances I have seen in my life.  He is unbelievably good and daring as an ultimate lowlife.  He deserves to win all possible awards.  Grade: A

Sister Act -- Much better than most movies turned into musicals.  Some genuinely funny material and a smashing performance by the lead.  Grade:  B+

Book of Mormon -- Exceeded my sky-high expectations.  I have never seen a funnier musical.  Totally outrageous and original.  A mix of traditional musical comedy with over-the-top sacrilege and profanity.  A+

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert -- Slightly disappointing.  Great production values and costumes, but the humor seemed forced and the characters were not as engaging as they were supposed to be. After seeing a couple really good new musicals with original scores, the recycled disco songs seemed too conventional.  C+

How to Succeed in Business -- You have to respect Daniel Radcliffe for trying to make it as a song and dance man.  He works so hard, and you are pulling for him, but he just doesn't have it in him.  John Laraquette steals the show as the boss.  C

Mother.......with the Hat -- On Broadway, it seems the only weak performances you ever see are from movie on TV stars.  Here it is Chris Rock who seemed awkward and self-conscious in a very dark comedy.  Thankfully, the rest of the cast is really good, especially Bobby Cannavale.  B

Anything Goes -- My expectation were too high and I was mildly disappointed.  Obviously, it is a great score, the revised book works fine, and the two biggest production numbers were outstanding.  Sutton Foster is talented and finely seemed like a grown-up rather than a kid but didn't have the presence or strength of personality to own the show.  Where is Lupone when you need her?  The male lead was pretty forgettable in a role that can be dazzling.   B-

Normal Heart -- Powerful AIDS drama, but less emotionally overwhelming than a Raul Esparza version I saw off-Broadwy a few years ago.  B+

War Horse -- Pure stage magic.  Life-size puppets and an old-fashioned heart-tugging story had the audience truly mesmerized from start to finish.  A

Bengal Tiger at the Bagdad Zoo -- Finally a movie star (Robin Williams) gives a strong performance in another very dark comedy.  A good play that does not seem to be finding its audience. Williams in probably too restrained here to please his Mork-loving fans.  B

Catch Me if You Can -- Unexpectedly delightful.  My biggest surprise of the trip because the reviews were not great.  I knew that Norbert Leo Butz would be highly amusing, but was totally unprepared for Aaron Tveit.  I expected a bland pretty-boy and got a charmingly charismatic star.  He is everything Daniel Radcliffe needed to be in How to Succeed, but wasn't.  A-
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Jun 10th, 2011, 08:52 AM
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Loved your post, TC -- just enough comment to mean something to the reader and ratings to put them in a sort of order.

I'm a little curious what you mean by the "male lead" in Anything Goes. Did you mean Moonface (Joel Gray) who is considered the male lead in this production -- his name is even above the title? I was a bit disappointed in him as I'm used to seeing more of a big gangster "type" who comes off as a sort of puppydog, rather than a little weakling type who comes off as a puppydog. But if you meant the male lead as being Billy (most would consider that the male lead) I'm kind of stunned by the idea that that role is ever "dazzling". Despite great songs, which I thought this actor did beautifully, there really isn't much to do with the role. For the life of me, for example, I really can't remember much about any Billy I've ever seen in any production of the musical.
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Jun 10th, 2011, 08:58 AM
  #20
 
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Songdoc - does one need to be in line early for the lottery at Book of Mormon? Sight says 2.5hrs before; does everyone have a chance to enter if you're there on time?
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