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A Trip to the Theatre

gavin

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I forgot this topic was here. I'll try and remember stuff I've seen in the year+ since I last posted.

The Bodyguard

I saw this in Germany last summer. The spoken bits were in German, but all the songs were in English. I knew the story anyway, so didn't miss much with the dialogue. It was pretty decent. They've added a bunch more Whitney songs than just those from the original Bodyguard film soundtrack, so it's following the same story, but has become a bit more of a Whitney jukebox musical. I enjoyed it, but won't be rushing to see it again.

Aladdin

Again in Germany last summer. Everything was in German this time, which was fine since I know the film well enough to know what's going on. It's Disney, so you hardly need a degree in German Literature to follow it. The only thing I really missed was some of the humour from the genie. I really liked it. It looks absolutely amazing, especially the whole "cave of wonders" section. I'd see it again if it popped up.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Another one in Germany, and again all in German. LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this. For me, Hunchback has one of the absolute best Disney scores, so is a very obvious stage adaptation, which bizarrely hasn't really taken off. The set was gorgeous while being pretty simple in that there weren't huge changes/effects etc. What was interesting is that they've stuck more closely with the original book, while using the Disney music, so you end up with something much darker than the Disney film. It's beyond me why this hasn't made it to Broadway and/or the West End. Maybe because the IP isn't as much of a heavy-hitter as Aladdin/Lion King etc.?

West Side Story

This was an Asian tour of the 2009 Broadway revival. I'd never been massively interested, but went anyway and really enjoyed it. I didn't really realise how many of the songs I knew already (pretty much all of them), so it all seemed quite familiar without ever having seen any other production or the film version.

Priscilla, Queen of the Desert

Very entertaining, and the bus was amazing, but it all felt a bit lacking for me. I think it's a case of not really being that into the whole "jukebox" style of musicals; I'd rather have original music than a bunch of random songs tenuously thrown together.

The Play That Goes Wrong

Brilliant. Very clever while appearing to be very stupid. Impeccable timing while looking like the timing was all over the place. Just really good fun.

Bosch Dreams

Kind of a circus performance but using huge projections of work by Hieronymus Bosch as a backdrop. Parts of it were absolutely stunning, but it was quite inconsistent with a fair few dead spots.

The Suppliant Women

Amazing. An Actors Touring Company production of an ancient Greek tragedy, where they train up local performers in each city they play in. The staging is very simple, but the material and delivery is really powerful.

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time

I'd read the book years ago, and liked it, but couldn't really remember the story. Loved this show. The staging is amazing, as were (most) of the performances. I can see why this ended up with all the awards it got.

Evita

I'd see two different productions of this in the past, and loved both. It's up there with my all-time favourite musicals, so I was chuffed when it came to Hong Kong for the first time recently. Interestingly, it's a revival of the original West-End/Broadway show, so the staging was much simpler than the older (newer) productions that I'd seen. Still loved it though, and went back a second time a week or so later.

Piaf - The Spectacular

Pretty much a tribute to Edith Piaf, with a bit of theatrical staging. In the first half, "Edith" is singing some of her older songs while working/singing in a cafe. The musicians double up as the customers. The second half is presented as a post-fame, diva performance, with more of the well-known heavy-hitters. It was amazing. The singer, Anne Carrere, was absolutely phenomenal. She sounded absolutely amazing and was a massively-engaging performer. Loved it.
 

peep

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It's beyond me why this hasn't made it to Broadway and/or the West End. Maybe because the IP isn't as much of a heavy-hitter as Aladdin/Lion King etc.?
I can't say for Broadway but I've always felt that the West End is a bit crammed with shows and all the theatres big enough for Disney audiences are sort of taken up years in advance. I know it took Book of Mormon years to get here purely because it was hard to find a suitable theatre for the show. It might also be Disney playing it safe, if it takes years to secure a theatre you want to make sure the show is going to be a hit, maybe Mary Poppins wasn't as big as they hoped and that scared them off a bit? I suppose Broadway had Little Mermaid and that was a huge failure too.
 

gavin

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I can't say for Broadway but I've always felt that the West End is a bit crammed with shows and all the theatres big enough for Disney audiences are sort of taken up years in advance. I know it took Book of Mormon years to get here purely because it was hard to find a suitable theatre for the show. It might also be Disney playing it safe, if it takes years to secure a theatre you want to make sure the show is going to be a hit, maybe Mary Poppins wasn't as big as they hoped and that scared them off a bit? I suppose Broadway had Little Mermaid and that was a huge failure too.
It's not a "big" show like the other Disney ones though. It would cost nowhere near as much to stage, so wouldn't need one of the bigger theatres like the others have had in order to recoup costs / turn a profit.
 

gavin

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Love Never Dies

This was playing when I was in Dallas, so I decided to give it a go despite knowing that it hadn't had the best reviews. For those who don't know, it's a sequel to The Phantom of the Opera, which is fantastic.

F**k me it was dreadful. Positives: well-designed and superbly-lit. Negatives: everything else.

The story was ridiculous while also being entirely predictable from the outset. It was just so over-the-top melodramatic that it was laughable. People were literally laughing right the way through it. The phantom just suddenly popping up every 5 minutes was like something out of a farce. The characterisation was awful, especially turning Madame Giry into some Maleficent-style Disney villain. The music and, especially, lyrics were poor. There were a few nice moments when various motifs from the orginal Phantom popped up, but all they really served to do was to make you wish you were watching that instead. The performers were excellent - the guy playing the phantom was probably the best I've personally seen/heard vocally - but they just had total and utter s**te t to work with. I actually felt sorry for them.

Awful, awful, awful piece of s**t.
 

Hutch

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Saw a couple of shows recently, both at the Boston Opera House.

Hamilton

Actually saw this back in October, guess I never posted about it. I've never been a fan of rap so this never really appealed to me that much, that being said this show gave me a new appreciation for the genre. I expected a lot from the production and it didn't disappoint, and the writing is well done. Most of the songs are quite catchy and I found myself listening to the soundtrack during the following weeks, which I wasn't expecting. I don't think it lives up to all the hype, but it still exceeded my expectations and I wouldn't mind seeing it again.

School of Rock

We never intended to see this but my sister won a couple lottery tickets this past week so would be rude not to. Basically, this show is all about the kids. They're fun and talented without being annoying, and the stuff they played was very impressive. I didn't care for the slower songs, and there were a couple of other songs I would've cut completely, but the band songs were fun and the final concert performance was awesome. You really felt like you were at a concert and yes, they do really play on stage. As expected it was very funny, especially some of the newer jokes that weren't in the movie. Solid show.
 

GuyWithAStick

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The Hunchback of Notre Dame
Recently saw this one at a local theater. I completely agree with you, this show is absolutely phenomenal. Fantastic score, wonderful staging, and has a great mix of Disney magic and Hugo darkness. Stellar show all around, and I highly recommend it to anyone who has the chance to see it.

It's beyond me why this hasn't made it to Broadway and/or the West End. Maybe because the IP isn't as much of a heavy-hitter as Aladdin/Lion King etc.?
I was wondering this as well. After doing some research, there were two main theories the internet offered: one is that they just put the show out to the world to be bought and performed at local theaters as it gives a higher ROI for the show, and the other is that when they tried to take it to Broadway, there was a dispute in being able to pay the large choir they use. Both are understandable, but I am thoroughly disappointed the show never got a chance to make it to Broadway proper. It would've been one of the top shows for sure.
 

Robbie

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I was wondering this as well. After doing some research, there were two main theories the internet offered: one is that they just put the show out to the world to be bought and performed at local theaters as it gives a higher ROI for the show, and the other is that when they tried to take it to Broadway, there was a dispute in being able to pay the large choir they use. Both are understandable, but I am thoroughly disappointed the show never got a chance to make it to Broadway proper. It would've been one of the top shows for sure.
I think Disney would have loved to have a musical "from the writer of Wicked" on Broadway but I think in the end it was unviable and, sadly, the stage version doesn't quite work - unable to go as dark as it needs to, but without having the kids appeal of Lion King and Aladdin.
 

peep

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Saw Wicked for the first time the other week. It had taken me this long because I was never fussed by the sound bites of the songs I'd heard. Hearing and seeing the full show hasn't really changed that mind set. The songs didn't do anything for me, there are a couple of moments where it gets good but they're minimal in the grand scheme of things. The set design, effects, cast etc are pretty good but the show fell flat for me just because of the songs/music. Oh well, can't like everything I see.

Saw Aladdin again last night with Nic. We were in like the 8th row of the stalls <3, thank you flash sale! So good, very happy that the main genie is still doing the show as he is phenomenal. The guy playing Aladdin had a great singing voice but he seemed to struggle to act at the same time as singing. I think the majority of the cast were the same as when I first saw it which was nice to see, they really are fantastic. The songs written for the stage version worked better for me second time around, maybe because I'd listened to the soundtrack a few times since. Overall it was excellent and glad I got a chance to see it again before it leaves at the end of the Summer.
 

GuyWithAStick

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I haven't given this a proper go yet, so let's take a crack at it:

Wicked: Meh. It looked cool and had some absolutely wonderful design aspects to it, but it seemed a bit generic in characters, plot, etc. I enjoyed the different 'spin' on the Wizard of Oz story, and was intrigued in the scenic and lighting design, but other than that it was a pretty middle-pack show. Some of the songs were nice, but a lot of them were rather forgettable.

School of Rock: Saw this on Broadway, and also was able to work on it for a school production. I really do enjoy it from the talented kids rocking out live on stage to the really cool lighting(especially during those rock scenes). It's obviously not the most 'intellectual' of shows, but it's really fun and has tons of fantastic jokes that actually made me laugh. I recommend seeing it if it's around.

Come From Away: Oh my GOD this show is incredible. It's about this tiny Canadian town that took in 38 planes full of people from around the world after the US airspace was closed during 9/11. It makes you laugh, cry, sing, and everything in between. I am really impressed with how they were able to take one of the most devastating travesties in modern history and turn it into this lively, upbeat show. The cast is incredibly talented, with loads of the original cast still on Broadway! I cannot express my love for the show enough. By far the best musical I've ever seen. It's touring the US right now if I remember correctly, so if you get the chance, see it!

In The Heights: Another one of my favorites. I saw this one at the statewide theater festival as the "All State" production in which people from all over come and work on the show. And boy was it good! The cast had loads of talent, the set was nice and vibrant, and the crew did a nice job of 'updating' the show to 2019. Despite 'only' being 10 years old, the main issues of the show have certainly become much more prevalent and known, so I'm glad I was able to see it in a new light. I will admit that I cried during Alabanza, but for a damn good reason(they made everything about that number so incredibly beautiful). Some of the timing was a tad off in certain bits(the transition from The Club to Blackout was a bit too quick I felt), but overall, it was a very well-made production.

Big Fish: Another "All State" production, though this one is a little older. Based on the early 2000s Tim Burton film, this show really encapsulates the emotion and conflict I felt the movie didn't fully embrace. The visual presentation of everything was spectacular, with loads of great ensemble work, vibrant colors, and some really cool set designs. A lot of the songs felt a bit uninspired and repetitive, but they were still great. The finale scene was quite the tearjerker, especially in how everything was choreographed and arranged. If you get the chance, I recommend it.

Hope to add two more shows in the coming weeks!
 

peep

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Come From Away
This recently opened in London, I should probably get tickets before it ends (I can't see it sticking around for long).

This came and went really quickly here so I missed out, even had Kelsey Grammer in it! Gutted I missed it, sounds like it was a decent show. I personally found the film pretty emotional when I saw it years ago so can imagine the show being just as tearjerky.
 

Robbie

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This recently opened in London, I should probably get tickets before it ends (I can't see it sticking around for long).
Currently due to close on 14th September but selling quite well and word-of-mouth is good so may stick around a bit longer.
 

GuyWithAStick

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Alrighty, got to see some more stuff the past few weeks!

Rent: What a fantastic show! It has the full package with great music, an interesting set, snazzy costumes, and some really touching moments. This was the 20th Anniversary Tour, so it was pretty high-end. I loved how the actors turned the characters into their own(especially this Angel, they were ****ing FABULOUS), yet kept the feel of the original production. Oh, and the vocal performances were stunning. Hearing Seasons of Love in person was an awesome experience. If it comes by, I recommend seeing it!

SIX: I did not expect to love this as much as I did! This show began in London, and is currently in its North American debut. And holy crap what a banger this is! The show itself isn't really plot-driven and is more like a theatrical concert, but it's still such a fun experience. All the songs are super fun and catchy(with a few touching ones thrown in for good measure) while taking a pretty good look at the lives of these people. My personal favorite is probably All You Wanna Do, but Heart of Stone is another great one. The costumes are as spectacular as the actresses wearing them, because they are just stunningly detailed. The singing is godly, and the energy just does not stop. Loved this show way too much haha. It's currently running in Chicago, but I'm almost certain they're going to bring it to NYC soon.

Falsettos: Owie my feels. Another phenomenal performance by all involved. Bar a single missing sound cue, the whole show ran incredibly well. The set is utter genius, the costuming is simple yet effective, and the performances are simply incredible. You really get to know the characters, and the heart-wrenching ending will at the very least make your eyes a little hazy. I just cannot recommend this show enough. The Broadway Revival is available for viewing on YouTube as it was recorded for Public Broadcasting a few years ago. It's a bit difficult to grasp at first, but it's amazing once you do.
 

Thekingin64

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Rotterdam: Play regarding LGBT lifestyles and coming out to friends and parents while living abroad. Very well done and gets the story out very well without being preachy about LGBT support. Currently on tour around UK but believe final show this Saturday in Manchester. Well worth seeing.
 

Hutch

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Six

Saw this last night in Cambridge. I went in pretty blind, only knowing that it was a modern take on the six wives of King Henry VIII. And I must say this was a ton of fun. It's presented as pop concert and it's just non stop energy the whole way through. There's some fantastic singing and hilarious characters. Perfect length as well, only 75 min long with no intermission.
 

peep

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Had a theatre weekend!

First up was The Man in the white suit. Didn't know much about this going in apart from who was starring in it and that it was based off an old Ealing comedy (usually a good sign). We had seats in the front row which felt slightly awkward, having to move your head around to keep up with what's going on all over the stage. It was a really funny show with some really interesting set pieces, reminded me of that brilliant stage adaptation of The Ladykillers. The cast were phenomenal, Stephen Mangan was brilliant and really showed off how good he is at physical comedy (feel like I've only seen him do dead-pan delivery before). I really enjoyed this, some of the plot lines may have been slightly predictable but it's very funny. Shame this hasn't done too well though and it's ending it's run early.

Then we saw Come From Away. Oh wow, @GuyWithAStick was absolutely right about this show, it is INCREDIBLE! I was absolutely captivated by what was going on the entire runtime. It's just really powerful, the music was great, the story is wonderful and wholesome and it's also funny despite the really sad circumstances. I've listened to the Broadway recording and I'm going to be biased and say the West End cast are better! (Although sometimes recordings just don't feel as good as it being performed live). It just got its run extended so might have to take some more people to check it out.

We ended our weekend with the latest show from the hilarious Mischief Theatre, Groan Ups. This is the team behind The Play that goes Wrong, Peter Pan Goes Wrong and Comedy about a bank robbery. Groan Ups basically follows a group of kids through school, it's split into three parts. First is when they're six years old, then it skips to when they're 14 (I think? something like that) and then the third part is when they're 30-odd at a school reunion. The show is very funny but it also gets quite emotional in the second act (the reunion). The staging is very clever and the music they used was a right ol' nostalgia fest. I feel like this theatre group can do no wrong, they're just very funny people. Unfortunately the show is only on for another week or so before they switch to their second of three shows in their theatre takeover, Magic Goes Wrong (very excited).
 
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