Monday, April 16, 2007

4 Shows in 3 Days

In my family, we know how to do theatre. My mom and my sister, Amy, came to Syracuse to visit me last week and they came to New York with me when I went for my internship. We arrived Thursday morning and were there until Sunday afternoon. We each saw four shows (not the same four shows) and only paid full price for one. What follows is an explanation of the different ways in which we purchased our tickets, but you can always skip ahead to the reviews.

On Thursday, they were going to get tickets for "Beauty and the Beast" at TKTS (the 50% off ticket booth in Times Square). "Beauty and the Beast" does not have student rush, so the only way to get cheap tickets is at TKTS. My sister really wanted to see "Beauty and the Beast" before it closed. Also, John Tartaglia is in it and she's never seen him live. I will admit, I was a little curious about the show, having seen every other Disney production. Before they went to get tickets, they stopped at the theatre to make sure JT was in it, only to find out that such information is not posted until an hour and a half before show-time and that JT had an understudy the night before. They decided not to risk getting tickets in case he wasn't in it, so they stood in line for "Tarzan" student rush tickets I met them there after my internship at around 6 pm. Having seen "Tarzan," I was going to just chill at the hotel, but I decided to stop by "Grey Gardens" and try my luck. I strolled up to the box office, asked the nice woman if she had student rush, she said sure and gave me a fourth row seat for $26.

The next day, my mom and sister went to Studio 54 to see if they had rush tickets for "110 in the Shade" (I knew from previous experience that they tend to have general rush tickets in the mezzanine for $26 and more expensive student rush tickets closer to the stage, but every seat in Studio 54 is great). So they got general rush tickets for the three of us. Before the show, we stopped by the "Beauty and the Beast" theatre to find out that John Tartaglia was in it, so we thought it would be a safe bet that he would be in it on Saturday as well. We made a plan that my sister and I would go stand in line to get student rush tickets for "Spring Awakening" the next morning for the evening show and my mom would go to TKTS for the matinee of "Beauty and the Beast" (you can get up to two student rush tickets per I.D. and however many tickets at TKTS as you want).

We went to our respective lines at 8:30 am Saturday morning (this may seem crazy to some, but theatre isn't cheap, so these kinds of sacrifices are worth it if it means getting to see more shows). Unfortunately, they didn't happen to have any "Beauty and the Beast" tickets at TKTS, but we did have luck at "Spring Awakening," even though there were quite a few people in front of us. When we left the box office, we went to the "Beauty and the Beast" box office and found out that they did have seats available for $85. Because Amy was so desperate to see it, I decided to get a ticket for myself and for her. My mom was not curious enough for that kind of money, so we went to the "Chorus Line" lottery so maybe she could see a show as well. There was nobody there compared to how it was when I went and everyone won. So my mom got a front row center seat for $21. Had I known that before buying the other tickets, I would have made my sister go see "A Chorus Line."

So here is what I thought about the shows that I saw:

"Grey Gardens"- The story of Jackie O's cousin and aunt, Little Edie Beale and Edith Bouvier Beale, former socialites who became recluses in the 70s, is an unusual subject matter for a musical, and it might have worked better as a play. The songs didn't add much to the story except that the two women were singers (there are plays in which the characters sing without it being an actual musical). It's an interesting story, but you could always watch the documentary or read about them in a book. The only reason to see this show is for the performances of Christine Ebersole and Mary Louise Wilson. Ebersole plays the domineering Edith in 1941 and the childlike Edie in 1973 and Wilson plays Edith in 1973. The scenes in 1973 are the most entertaining, as the women play off each other in a manner both hilarious and tragic. I'm glad I saw this show, but it is the type of show I would see once. I appreciated it from a distance, but it didn't really move me.

"110 in the Shade"- The Roundabout Theatre Company has done it again. I've never been disappointed by any of its productions and "110 in the Shade" is no exception. The show is a revival of the 1963 musical with music and lyrics by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones (the team behind the music of "The Fantasticks"). The story takes place during a heat wave in the 1930s in Texas. Audra McDonald plays Lizzie Curry, who is in danger of becoming an old maid. Her father and brothers are desperately trying to marry her off. It's a sweet and entertaining story, expertly acted by the ensemble. It's easy to see why many flock to the theatre to see McDonald. Her singing is effortless, but she did not outshine the rest of the cast. Most notable was Steve Kazee as the mysterious rainmaker Starbuck (that name has such a loaded meaning nowadays). If the show was that near flawless the first night of previews, I can't imagine how good it will be once it opens. The show will have a short run and closes on July 15.

"Beauty and the Beast"- This is by far the worst of the Disney productions, even worse than "Tarzan." I'm hoping that the show was better when it opened in 1994 and that it's just grown tired. This is proof that it is time for it to close. I felt like I was watching children's theatre. Of course, this show is intended for children, but the other Disney shows didn't feel like they could only be enjoyed by children. Every joke was uttered so slowly. It didn't help that they were all taken directly from the movie so I got to the punchlines about 5 minutes before the actors did. The acting was pretty amateurish as well. The saving grace was Stephen Buntrock as Gaston whose scenes were by far the most enjoyable and pleasing to the ear (especially a song not in the movie, the delightfully wicked "Maison Des Lunes"). John Tartaglia was as charming and adorable as ever and although he did a good job with the French accent and Lumiere's characteristic voice, it did seem hard on his voice. I'm sorry I spent so much money on the show (especially when I can have a much better time watching the movie for free), but at least I've seen it and don't have to wonder anymore.

"Spring Awakening"- It should come as a surprise to no one who reads my blog or knows me that I love "Spring Awakening." It can be anti-climactic seeing a show for the second time no matter how good it is, but it was just as amazing as I remembered it. Plus, I loved being able to introduce my sister to a show that totally moved her. I'm looking forward to the Tony nominations. If it doesn't win best musical, I'll be shocked.

3 comments:

Raquel Laneri said...

Have you seen the doc Grey Gardens? I enjoyed this post! I'm glad you had such a fruitful weekend with your mom and sister.

Jon Ross said...

You actually let your mom see Chorus Line?

Linda said...

No, I haven't seen the documentary of "Grey Gardens," but I'd like to. I'm curious to see how much of the musical they took from that.

Yeah, I let my mom see "A Chorus Line" and she loved it. I also loved it the first time I saw it, so maybe we went on a bad night. Anyway, "A Chorus Line" is a lot better than "Beauty and the Beast."