In honor of Tony nominations being announced today, I thought it might be nice to talk about some of the shows I’ve had the pleasure of seeing lately. My husband works renting audio equipment to theatrical productions, and as a result we get offered free tickets to a lot of shows…which. is. AWESOME. I’ve seen five shows in as many weeks! To be completely honest and up front, I’m kind of a tough critic (not like Ben Brantley tough, but still).
(1) The Heidi Chronicles
Let me start off by saying that I’m a sucker for a good musical, so straight plays have a harder time winning me over from the get-go. That said, this was a decent one. I can definitely see how the original production in 1988 was pretty groundbreaking, and it tackles some issues that are still (unfortunately) relevant today – sexism in media and the workplace and the question on every woman’s mind…can you really “have it all” in life? Bryce Pinkham was a delight, and Jason Biggs plays smarmy too well. But I’m sorry, Elisabeth Moss just isn’t up my alley. All in all, meh.
(2) On the 20th Century
Big names, both on the stage and in the audience, made this experience a special one. It was opening night! So, not only did we get to see a very fun what-you-think-of-when-you-think-of-musicals musical, but we also got to attend the opening night party at the Hard Rock Cafe. We were in one of the boxes on the side of the theater. While I always thought it would be cool to sit there, it wasn’t. The show was fun/funny, but the extreme angle we were at meant we missed some of the action. Maybe I’d feel differently if we had better seats, but for now I give it a 7 (out of 10) at best.
(3) Something Rotten
In another special one, we got to attend the final dress rehearsal for this one. Those are always fun because the audience is full of family, friends, and other industry folk who want the show to be successful – making the applause extra long and extra loud. Unfortunately, good new musicals are hard to come by, but this was a pleasant surprise. Act one blew act two out of the water with one show-stopping number that David and I predict will be performed at the Tony awards this year. Lots of silliness and self-awareness! Of the five I’ve seen recently, this was definitely my favorite.
(4) The Visit
I heart Roger Rees, and we go way back as I was his partner’s assistant back in my Disney days. Every time we’ve interacted, he’s been nothing but sweet, and his talent is undeniable. That said, this production will give me nightmares for years to come. The set is magnificent and Chita Rivera is a living legend, but I go to musicals for the same reason I enjoy a good rom-com – I want to leave feeling good and happy. This musical was depressing and dark, and just not what I wanted to see. I haven’t read any of the official reviews, but I speak for the average folk…so it probably got raves.
(5) Dr. Zhivago
Kelli. Barrett. The pipes on that one! This one was also a bit of a downer, and a little soap opera-y for my taste. There was a lot of melodrama accompanied by a lot of minor chords and set in Russia. If you could see my face right now… I know this production has been in the works for a long time (like years and years), but I think maybe it wasn’t the best adaptation idea. Overall, I will say I didn’t HATE it. That’s not completely obnoxious of me, right?