There’s been a trend at the Hobby Center over the past few months, as many of the recent shows presented there have been anniversary productions of audience favorites. Two of the biggest British imports – LES MISERABLES and THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA – have both brought 25th Anniversary Tours to town. When TUTS announced their 50th Anniversary season, it only made sense to include a show born on their stage that was also celebrating its 25th birthday. Frequent readers know that I was less than impressed with the “revised” productions of two of my favorite shows. So how did TUTS do with this locally-produced production? There’s a line in act two of the show – “There may be something there that wasn’t there before.” This lyric applies perfectly to this new production — mostly in a positive way but with one huge, disappointing difference.
The “jukebox musical” isn’t anything new — in fact, the first incarnation was an assemblage of Harry Chapin songs (think “Cats in the Cradle”) in the mid-1970s. Some shows have found success (MAMMA MIA! is Broadway’s 9th longest-running show overall) while others have fallen flat (Disney’s attempt to put its entire catalog of songs into a single show – ON THE RECORD – never even made it to New York). ROCK OF AGES is celebrating its 10th anniversary with a North American tour — but how does it hold up a decade later?
There’s a reason why THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA is Broadway’s longest-running show, just recently celebrating its 30th anniversary on the Great White Way. Soaring music and dazzling stagecraft brought Gaston Leroux’s novel to life and made the show legendary. So why does producer Cameron Mackintosh feel the need to keep trying to re-invent the wheel?
It’s interesting that Theatre Under the Stars began their 50th Anniversary Season with OKLAHOMA!, a show that was a watershed moment in the development of the musical theatre art form. The Rodgers & Hammerstein classic was the first to integrate the songs into the story, creating a seamless project. All musicals after that interwove the music, lyrics and book to create an overall narrative with each element being an important part of the story. While the art form itself has progressed incredibly in the 75 years since that production, unfortunately TUTS has taken a huge step backwards with their second production of the season, THE WIZ. And it’s mostly due to one huge and completely avoidable flaw.
The “Bridges” tour made its way to Toyota Center last night and overall it was a great show. What follows isn’t a true formal review, but rather some random thoughts about the show, the performers and more.
“All the world’s a stage.”
We can debate how much we believe this famous Shakespeare metaphor from AS YOU LIKE IT. But in the Alley Theatre’s whimsical new production of TWELFTH NIGHT, not even all of the real stage is actually a stage.
There’s a reason LES MISERABLES is a worldwide sensation and one of the longest-running and most popular musicals in history. It’s also one of my favorite musicals personally. I’ve probably seen the show at least twenty times in various incarnations and always up for another go. Did this most recent tour live up to expectations and carry on the legacy of this remarkable show?
If you’ve worked in the corporate world for any amount of time, you’ve likely been a part of layoffs or downsizing. The opening show of the Alley Theatre’s new season, SKELETON CREW, explores what it’s like to be a part of that world — from several different points of view.
In 1968, a single performance of BELLS ARE RINGING was presented at the new Miller Outdoor Theatre in Hermann Park. The man who made this free production happen was a college student named Frank Young. He went on to found THEATRE UNDER THE STARS, which begins its 50th Anniversary season with the groundbreaking OKLAHOMA! Certainly a safe choice, but with practically every theatre company from schools to professionals presenting this show at one time or another, is there a reason to bring back a musical that was 25 years old when TUTS was born?
You’d think Facebook would make it easy for businesses to answer seemingly simple questions and communicate with their customers. But you’d be wrong. And here is a great example of how NOT to handle a customer’s simple question.