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The [theater] geek thread: Overture

Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready.We Hunt.Registered User regular
I haven't seen one of these in a while here in D&D, so I thought I'd start one and see if there are any bites. This thread is for discussing and debating about your favorite musicals and plays. Maybe you were in the orchestra pit (like me!), or maybe you are singing on Broadway right now (I wish!). If Sondheim is your god, or you simply like watching people disrobe on stage, this is the thread for you.

Have I got a thread for you... wait 'til you meet her!


Do you have interesting stories from when you were in a show or involved in a production? Are you squee-ing about your latest OBCR?

As for me, I recently saw a friend of mine in Indianapolis play Leon Csolgosz in "Assassins" (one of my top 10 musicals). He was SO good. Kept the Polish accent throughout the entire production, including singing, but I wouldn't expect less from him. My brother was complaining about the accuracy of the fake stage firearms, though, but he's a bit of a gun nut.

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    I was spending my flight on the in-flight wifi watching a bootleg of "First Date", a musical with Zach Levi (currently in the recently closed production of "She Loves Me") and Krysta Rodriguez. I initially dismissed this musical after listening to the OBCR a couple of times, but it was the first YouTube bootleg that came up on a search, so I thought "What the hell?" As is usually the case for cast recordings versus live shows, the show isn't too bad. I thought it was a bit short for a musical, but they land some good comedic beats that don't really come through on the cast album.

    The thing I was doing after listening to the atrocious sound quality of the songs on the bootleg (well, it's a bootleg... duh!) was going to my Amazon Music library, muting the sound from the bootleg, and playing the song from my archive instead. I was amazed at how well the timing worked when playing back the cast album and sync'ing it (manually, mind you) with the video. It greatly improved my enjoyment of the bootleg.

    Also, I was watching this clip (cross-posted from the SE++ Hamilton thread):


    The Schuyler Sisters sing For the Longest Time.

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  • BogartBogart Kneel before Mod Registered User, Moderator mod
    I have tickets to see Anthony Sher play Lear later this year. He will no doubt be magnificent.

    Hahnsoo1Thirith
  • ThirithThirith Registered User regular
    We're hoping to see Lear as well; I'm hoping that we can go to Stratford for a night or two, catch Simon Russell Beale in The Tempest, and then continue to London for a few more nights, see some friends and see Lear.

    I saw the 1999 production of Macbeth that starred Antony Sher and Harriet Walter; I liked it a lot. I can very much recommend Sher's two books Year of the King and Woza Shakespeare!

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  • BogartBogart Kneel before Mod Registered User, Moderator mod
    Ha! I saw Simon Russell Beale waaaaaaay back when in another Tempest, when he played Ariel. Watching actors get old and grow into roles is its own delight.

    Thirith
  • ThirithThirith Registered User regular
    I have to admit that I don't know Beale particularly well. I've seen him in the BBC's Hollow Crown and in The Deep Blue Sea, and I've liked him in both, but I don't know him at all as a stage actor. I'm very much looking forward to seeing him as Prospero, though, not least because I've yet to see The Tempest on stage.

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  • RiusRius Registered User regular
    It's funny about Sondheim; I wasn't a theater enthusiast (didn't hate it either, just never went) before I met my then-girlfriend now-wife, and she is super into Sondheim. We actually just watched the Tim Burton Sweeney Todd movie last night for the zillionth time, we went to see Sunday in the Park with George at a local theater last week and we saw that NPH-starring production of Company in the movie theater when it had it's run a couple years ago.

    When we used to live in Chicago, she worked with a local theater doing props and stage management. The best thing I ever saw during that period was a show called Never the Sinner, which was about Leopold and Loeb's 1924 act of murder and subsequent trial. I was fucking riveted, let me tell you.

    We've also been to see Avenue Q three times. I love bringing people who are unused to theater to that show =)

    wandering
  • VariableVariable Ted Hitler Stroke Me Lady FameRegistered User regular
    I was recently in a community theater production of JC Superstar as Judas and though I posted these in chat a couple of weeks back, fuck it.

    lemme stress community theater since I'm sure a lot of really quality stuff is gonna be in this thread.
    Judas' Death


    and a cut down Last Supper

    I wish I was more of a theater geek, I did this show because I've always wanted to do JCS and was lucky enough to get the dream part as far as I'm concerned. I will probably do more with this group in the coming months/years (I think they do 2 or 3 shows a year and this was not yet a month ago so it'll be a little bit before the next one is announced). But I wish I knew more shows! Very unlikely they'll be doing another one I know or love like this one.

    I only really know the big ones, les mis, phantom, in my world jcs is big not sure how popular it is really.

    At the cast party they were singing showtunes (of course) and I was so lost!


    ... there is word the next show might be 1776 though which I would jump at hard.

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  • VariableVariable Ted Hitler Stroke Me Lady FameRegistered User regular
    hahnsoo what instrument do you/did you play? and what show(s)?

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    Variable wrote: »
    hahnsoo what instrument do you/did you play? and what show(s)?
    So jealous of your JCS experience. :D Speaking of 1776:



    I play the violin. My brother is more musically talented and plays the violin, guitar, bass, and drums (basically a one-man rock band), but I just stuck with one instrument (aside from a stint in middle school where I played and hated the clarinet). I've been in a few orchestra pits (Pippin in High School, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying AKA H2S for short and Into the Woods in College). I failed a class because I was commuting to the theater for H2S instead of studying.

    I did a fair amount of singing in Undergrad, and I was in a few musicals as part of the cast, like South Pacific (I was both the Bass Sailor who sings a really low note in "Nothing Like a Dame" and Random Asian Islander. Yay, racial typecasting?). I think my favorite part was the aforementioned 1776. I played the Secretary, and I had a solo and a lot of speaking parts! I was the multi-ethnic cast of a patriotic musical before it was cool! :D

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited July 2016
    We also called 1776 "Seventeen Seventy Sausage Fest". :-P So many old dudes. I would be highly interested in a 1776 that had gender-neutral roles. I think some of the songs would be really interesting if women or mixed-chorus were singing them (I think I heard some Sweet Adelines AKA Women's Barbershop sing some of the songs, actually).

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited July 2016
    Rius wrote: »
    It's funny about Sondheim; I wasn't a theater enthusiast (didn't hate it either, just never went) before I met my then-girlfriend now-wife, and she is super into Sondheim. We actually just watched the Tim Burton Sweeney Todd movie last night for the zillionth time, we went to see Sunday in the Park with George at a local theater last week and we saw that NPH-starring production of Company in the movie theater when it had it's run a couple years ago.
    I can highly recommend the John Doyle-directed versions of both Company and Sweeney Todd. He did this experimental theater thing where the actors are ALSO the orchestra pit/musicians, and it works really well! Sweeney Todd had the incomparable Patti LuPone, but Company (with Raul Esparza) was the real gem. It was recorded by PBS under the Great Performances label, so you should track it down.

    Sondheim is a god for theater geeks, but a lot of his music obtuse and dense, and it doesn't have the immediate appeal of, say, Phantom of the Opera or Hamilton. I generally start people off with Sweeney Todd, Company, or Assassins (depending on their personality), and work my way up to the harder stuff like Sunday in the Park with George. He definitely writes a lot of "inside baseball" for musical enthusiasts... for example, Into the Woods starts off with the Mother of All "I Want/Wish" songs, by literally layering 5 or 6 "I Want" songs all into one (a feat that most people don't notice unless they are familiar with a lot of musicals). And, of course, stuff like "Merrily We Roll Along" are all about the theater (Much Reference. So Meta.).
    When we used to live in Chicago, she worked with a local theater doing props and stage management. The best thing I ever saw during that period was a show called Never the Sinner, which was about Leopold and Loeb's 1924 act of murder and subsequent trial. I was fucking riveted, let me tell you.
    Hmm. I'll have to check that one out! I haven't seen/heard it.
    We've also been to see Avenue Q three times. I love bringing people who are unused to theater to that show =)
    I find that Avenue Q, Rent, Book of Mormon, and Company are good starting points for bringing folks into theater.

    EDIT: Oh, and Little Shop of Horrors! :D

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    Rius
  • silence1186silence1186 Character shields down! As a wingmanRegistered User regular
    Had cousins in from out of town recently, who had never been to the big city, so we took them to see Wicked. They were wowed at the spectacle of it all, and me, though I've been to quite a few shows, was still completely floored by the Act 1 finale (what a showstopper, my gods! I got chills).

    V wrote:
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    Hahnsoo1
  • TofystedethTofystedeth veni, veneri, vamoosi Registered User regular
    I am headed to Dallas this week to watch a play.
    When I was in high school I ran lights for a comedy theater. My dad has been their resident lighting designer since I was probably 9. Their main thing they did was a series of a black and white murder mysteries, written, usually directed by, and starring the guy who ran the place. They're pretty great. I had to sign an NDA when I started that I wouldn't reveal how they do the makeup as it's a trade secret. Not that I knew how anyway.

    Anyway, that guy is retiring from playing that role, and the play they're doing this July is his final one and it was one of the ones they did while I worked there, so I'm gonna go down, visit my family and say hi to the group. A lot of them have been part of that company for 20 years.

    As far as my own accomplishments, I sang in the chorus for a couple of operas in college (The Bartered Bride and Faust) and did a couple musicals with the local community theater. The first year we did Into The Woods and it was a ton of fun, and one of my favorite shows because of that. I was cast as the Steward, but the guy playing the Old Man/Narrator got removed a week before opening so I got promoted and had to cram my ass off. Fortunately that was just after I graduated and didn't yet have a job so I had pretty much nothing to do but run lines.
    The next year we were paired up the childrens' theatre and did Oliver and was Bill Sykes. Which was a lot less fun. Soooo many children running around.

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited July 2016
    I was cast as the Steward, but the guy playing the Old Man/Narrator got removed a week before opening so I got promoted and had to cram my ass off. Fortunately that was just after I graduated and didn't yet have a job so I had pretty much nothing to do but run lines.
    I find that this is the typical theater experience, at least for me. :-P Everything comes together at the last minute, and often by accident.

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  • PantsBPantsB Registered User regular
    The wife just grabbed us Hamilton tickets for February, so that's pretty cool.

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    My "Waitress" CD just came in the mail yesterday! *squee* The songs are really catchy, but it doesn't feel like a jukebox musical, despite being written by Sara Bareilles (:whistle: "I'm not gonna write you a showtune... 'cause you asked for it 'cause you need one, you see" :whistle: ).

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    I just picked up The Ultimate Broadway Musical List Book by Steven M. Friedman. It is in DIRE need of an actual editor, because the mistakes written throughout the book are atrocious. He spells Elaine Stritch as "Elaine Stritctch" in the 21 Great Women's Star Turns in Musicals, for example. Or another list has Mother Abbess "The Sound of Music") <- Yes, that is a hanging parenthetical. He can't decide whether to put his musicals in parentheses, quotation marks, or with no distinguishing marks at all. In some cases, he omits the musical and assumes that you know which one he's talking about.

    He also seems to have some blind spots on his musical lists. There are very few (if any) jukebox musicals, which I don't mind, per se... I hate most jukebox musicals, but it is a notable omission, especially given the success of "Mamma Mia". He also doesn't mention "Rent" anywhere that I've seen (so far), which was basically the definitive musical of Generation X (if there is such a thing). I'm not seeing any Stephen Schwartz musicals in any of the lists, either. "Pippin" and "Godspell" are well-loved, and "Wicked" was a spectacular mega-hit.

    The actual trivia information about the different performances and roles is pretty sound and entertaining. But it seems overall woefully incomplete and full of technical writing errors, like a CRACKED article.

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  • ThirithThirith Registered User regular
    I don't know much Sondheim, but I absolutely fell in love with Assassins when I saw a pretty good amateur production at the Edinburgh Fringe a few years ago. For most of the show, I liked it, but I was blown away by the gut punch at the end that brings together all the different strands with the Balladeer's transformation.

    I was similarly amazed at a production of Gypsy, which I saw in London last year. The film's pretty good, considering when it was made, and it's brilliant in a key scene, but Imelda Staunton made the final big number, "Rose's Turn", both psychologically frightening and heartbreaking. Really glad I saw that one - especially since it was pretty much a random pick when we decided to go to London for a week.

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    I just picked up "On Your Feet! The Emilio and Gloria Estefan Story". It's... what you'd expect from a jukebox musical. :-P But it's so damn catchy! :whistle: Come on, shake your body, can you do the conga... :whistle:

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    For this month's cast album, I listened to "The Wedding Singer" musical. My advice: Don't. :D It was utterly forgettable, and there are few positive things I could say about it. It does have the awesome Laura Benanti playing the lead. There's a song which uses the riff from Spandau Ballet's "True" and another song which sounds like a tonally inverted "We Didn't Start the Fire" which I can't tell if it is genius or stupid (probably just the latter). That song actually had "Iacocca" as a lyric.

    It lacks the goofy earnestness of the original movie and essentially loses the heart of the story in an endless wash of 80s references. There are so many things about it that just don't work, at least as a cast album.

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    I'm just going to put this here. :D

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    Elvenshae
  • HacksawHacksaw J. Duggan Wrestler at LawRegistered User regular
    As a stagehand, I am glad this thread exists.

    Also as a stagehand, I never want to see live theatre ever again.

    lonelyahava
  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    Crossposting from the Hamilton SE++ thread:
    Newsweek has a Hamilton special edition on the stands right now! It's been ages since I bought an actual physical magazine, but this will go nicely with my Hamiltome.

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  • Hahnsoo1Hahnsoo1 Make Ready. We Hunt.Registered User regular
    edited October 2016


    The Crucible Cast Party. This skit is so accurate, it hurts with the twinge of regret. :)

    Reposted from the [chat] thread courtesy of Casual Eddy.

    EDIT: Posted the YouTube link. :D

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  • ThirithThirith Registered User regular
    Since I mentioned earlier in this thread that we were going to see the RSC productions of The Tempest and King Lear, I thought I'd report back. I'd seen a few RSC productions ~20 years ago and liked them, but I found both of these too long and too referential.

    I can't really say all that much about The Tempest, because after an exhausting week at work, little sleep and a long trip from Switzerland to Stratford-upon-Avon I would probably have found Rogue One too long and slow-moving. King Lear, though, while it had good actors (and a standout Edgar), felt too boring by half, and that was mainly because almost none of the lines felt fresh. Shakespeare actors especially talk about fresh-minting the lines, but this felt a lot more like there was a specific RSC school of delivering Shakespeare's language and they were following it to a T. Edgar was really the only one that made the lines his own. There were some interesting visual flourishes, but I mainly came away from both productions thinking that you need to do much, much better if you do Shakespeare without extensive cuts these days.

    On our last day in London, though, we found out that a production of Sam Shepard's Buried Child was about to start, starring Ed Harris and Amy Madigan. I was certain there wouldn't be any tickets or only bad and overpriced ones, but my wife suggested we'd at least check - and we got reasonably priced tickets that were right in the middle of the auditorium, with a good view of the stage. Shepard's obviously a very different beast from Shakespeare, and in terms of staging you won't get as much variation, but it was a strong, well-performed performance and Harris especially was absolutely worth seeing. The play has certain lengths, especially towards the end, but it was by far the most enjoyable play we saw during our vacation.

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  • BogartBogart Kneel before Mod Registered User, Moderator mod
    I think I saw the same RSC production of King Lear, and came away thinking hmmm I was expecting better from Anthony Sher. Edgar and David Troughton were the best performances.

    Robert Stephens remains the best Lear I've ever seen, though I'm kicking myself I didn't go and see Glenda Jackson.

    Hahnsoo1
  • ThirithThirith Registered User regular
    edited December 2016
    Yeah... I saw Sher in a Macbeth he did, together with Harriet Walter, and that one was great, but his Lear didn't do much for me. I wonder what Glenda Jackson would've been like in the role; years ago I saw Vanessa Redgrave as Prospero, which was pretty good, so my track record with cross-cast aging socialists is quite okay.

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  • Captain MarcusCaptain Marcus now arrives the hour of actionRegistered User regular
    I've recently gotten into opera and watched the Pavorotti version of Pagliacci on YouTube last week. It was fantastic! I thought it was just some weird opera that Italian restaurants have posters of- I had no idea it was actually good.

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