Friday, June 23, 2006

On Broadway

My travels have begun again!
After a week of boredom following the close of another school year, I began my summer trips with a terrific excursion to NYC. Janelle, Kelley, and I all went for "professional development". It really was useful for all of us, I think. We shopped, played tourists, talked shop, and, naturally, saw shows. Kelley and Janelle left on Sunday, but I stayed an extra few days to cram in a few more shows and to hang out with mon ami Jason. For the first time that I can remember, I left the city feeling theatrically satiated. I'll post pictures from the trip soon, but for now I'll give you a run down/review of the shows we saw. For brevity's sake, I'll only do a quick impression of each show, rather than explaining them all. That's what the links are for. :)

While Janelle and Kelley went to "Wicked", Jason and I bought discount tickets from the "TKTS" booth for "Dirty Rotten Scoundrels". It was quite enjoyable. A little more crass than I expected (I haven't seen the movie), but the cast was fun and the songs were even better live than on the soundtrack. The set was simpler than I imagined, but I loved the style, especially the palm trees. Too bad we're done with our palm-tree laden show! Not the best show I've seen, but a fun way to start off the trip.

"Spelling Bee" was the only repeat show of the trip, and well worth seeing again. In fact, it held as my favorite show of the week. Jason enjoyed it when we saw it last year, but it was so much fun to see it with two other junior high school teachers. Kelley leaned over to me after the opening song to whisper "They even stand like our students!" The cast was almost all the original players, and they were dang hilarious. I highly recommend this show to anyone considering seeing it.

We bought tickets for "The Drowsy Chaperone" a while ago, since I had a feeling it would do quite well in the Tonys. It was a load of silly nonsense, which was fine by us. Only somewhat disturbing was the realization that I very much am the Man in the Chair, a connection to which my friends responded "Of course you are!" Janelle and Kelley thought the "insider" musical theater jokes were a bit too frequent, although we all enjoyed the terrible "King and I" satirical song "What is it about Asians that fascinates Caucasians?".

Jason and I scored tickets to "The History Boys" thanks to my Dad. I was glad to see it. The set design was wonderfully simplistic and the acting marvelous, particularly Frances de la Tour. She was so easy to listen to and understand, in such an effortless-seeming way. There were some great scenes and very quotable parts, although some parts made me a bit uncomfortable educator-wise in a shifting-"oh, he shouldn't do that"-familiarity-kind of way.

Saturday night we attended the anti-Chaperone, as it were. I am thrilled we got to see the revival of ”Sweeney Todd”, though. Bloody, ghoulish, creepy, and the best show we saw in terms of creativeness and sheer theatricality. This is how Sweeney should be done - simple, suggestive, and with symbolism. Manoel Felciano was outstanding as Tobias, especially. Excellent, really.

After seeing Janelle and Kelley off to the airport, I went to a matinee of "The Light in the Piazza". Just as the reviews said, it was a lovely show. I'm a sucker for lighting, and this had some of the best I've seen. The book was weak, and the second act lost something, but the music is just beautiful. Gutsy show, too, given that they had full scenes and songs only in Italian.

Finally, Jason and I went to see "The Water's Edge", a new play that opened last week off-Broadway. It's Greek tragedy set as a modern drama. Given that, the bloodiness of the second act shouldn't have surprised me as much as it did. The acting was first-rate, although the set design bugged us both. I'd rank it lowest of the shows I saw on this trip, but I am glad I saw it all the same, if only for the power monologue deliveries.

So there you go. Seven shows in five days. Educational, inspiring, and a most delightful trip. I'll leave for my next trip (an educational conference in San Diego) on Monday. Till then!

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