These Are a Few of My Favorite Searches

So with my WordPress blog, I get a fancy little dashboard that tracks my posts and site statistics. The statistics include how many hits each post is getting or where in the world my readers are based. The dashboard also has a section called “Top Searches.” These are the searches on Google, or whatever people like to search with (Bing?), that brought readers to my blog. They type something in, it has enough in common with the tags I’ve used on past posts, and Becca on Broadway pops up in their search results.

Why am I telling you all this? Because some of these searches are AMAZING. Over the past couple years, I’ve saved my favorites, and I thought I would share them with you now (with my comments in italics below). I hope you get as much enjoyment out of them as I have.

“what scene in rent does idina menzel show butt”
Clearly the most important part of that musical.

 “a million miles away ARADIN”
Um…

“80 minute sex”
I can only assume this brought up the blog because of my Sex Tips for Straight Women from a Gay Man review. Don’t get any ideas.

“understanding hedwig”
It’s a tricky one I suppose.

“hedwig and the crazy inch”
That inch is inSANE.

“i’d dan lauria starring in s christmas story in 2014”
Someone is in desperate need of spellcheck. And no, unfortunately Dan Lauria left A Christmas Story when the run ended at the very end of 2013.

“in the book of mice and men what are 3 things that lennie contributes to his friendship with george”
Sparknotes, anyone?

“change in mood comes when swastika is sceen in cabaret”
I’ll say.

“clint eastwood aladdin”
Now this I need to see.

“what was the reality show that aired briefly about conjoined twins”
Oh Side Show, I miss you.

“fren gully broadway tickets”
Yes! Great movie! Make it happen!

“mailchimp podcast”
Mail…kimp?

“twins on broadway show really conjoined”
Seriously?

“does steven pasquale have a girlfriend”
Mmm. I hear ya.

“rosie odonnell character cosette”
Okay, actually THIS is what I need to see.

Here’s hoping these keep pouring in, and this can be a regular installment!

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Video Friday: Something Wonderful

The King and I

Ruthie Ann Miles won the Tony Award for Featured Actress in a Musical for her moving performance as Lady Thiang in The King and I. When I saw the show back in July, her ballad “Something Wonderful,” a song that used to be just a beautiful melody to me, suddenly became clear. It’s romantic, heart-breaking, and gives meaning and dimension to an otherwise unknown backstory as Lady Thiang bares all in this vulnerable number.

Click here to see Ruthie’s “In Performance” with the New York Times.

Photo Credit: Paul Kolnik
Pictured: Ruthie Ann Miles


Sylvia

Sylvia

Meh Option 1

If You Can’t Take It With You didn’t secure Annaleigh Ashford as one of the best physical comedians out there right now, Sylvia certainly does. I might even venture to say that she’s my generation’s Carol Burnett. It could be too soon to tell, but here’s what I know: every gesture, each sound emitted, and even the slightest tilt of her head is jam packed with comedy gold.

Fresh off her Tony win, the star is back on stage with the first Broadway production of A.R. Gurney’s Sylvia, playing the title character. For those of you who are not familiar with the play, now would be the time to mention that the title character is also a dog. Sylvia is about a love triangle but not your average one. A man named Greg (Matthew Broderick) finds a stray dog in the park (Ashford) and brings her home, much to the dismay of his wife, Kate (Julie White). Robert Sella also stars, covering several roles, each one funnier than the last. The twist of Gurney’s comedy is that Sylvia can talk. Well, not in the sense of, “Oh! A talking dog!” Rather, she has conversations with people, but they’re not necessarily communicating. She is still a dog after all. When she barks, she says, “Hey.” “Hey! Hey! Hey!” The fact that this remains laugh-out-loud funny throughout the play is impressive. It’s hard to describe why it’s so amusing to see a human behaving like a dog. As Greg finds himself going through a mid-life crisis and Kate finds her marriage falling apart before her very eyes due to the furry arrival, Sylvia is hoping to find a permanent home on the couch.

Broderick is his usual self on stage. Just like in It’s Only a Play, I was quickly bored with his flat inflection. Every line sounds the same, and he looks stiff as a board up there, especially next to Ashford who’s jumping around and running and scratching and hey-ing. (Fun fact: Sarah Jessica Parker, Broderick’s wife, played Sylvia in the Off-Broadway 1995 premiere.) Julie White, in what could be a one-note role as the aggravated wife, is delicious as usual. And Sella, whose work I was unfamiliar with, was delightful to watch transform as he fills in the edges of the small ensemble.

My opinion on the play itself keeps shifting as I work on this post. Some days I think it is paper thin with the same gimmick over and over, but fortunately in this production, Annaleigh is so skillful that it doesn’t get old. On the other hand, the play is pretty darn cute, and it made me miss my old pup, Kirby (below). It may be a simple story, but it is about something real: the love between people and their dogs.

Kirby 2Kirby

Sylvia
Written by A.R. Gurney, Directed by Daniel Sullivan
Cort Theatre, Closing January 24th, 2016
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Pictured: Annaleigh Ashford and Matthew Broderick


Video Friday: Bring Him Home

Kyle Jean-Baptiste

Kyle Jean-Baptiste was the first African American (and youngest actor) to play Jean Valjean on Broadway in Les Misérables. Tragically, he died in August at the age of 21 after falling from a fire escape. This video was going around a bit this summer, but in case you didn’t see it, I wanted to share it here. What a shining light.

Click here to view Kyle’s audition for Les Miz.


Cloud Nine

Cloud Nine

Smile Option 1

The last time a major production of Caryl Chuchill’s Cloud Nine was seen in New York was in 1981 so I was very pleased to catch the revival at Atlantic Theater Company. This lovely, touching performance is running through November 1st, and I do think it’s worth your time.

Cloud Nine was a popular play to study back in college, especially in my Contemporary British Feminist Playwrights class when I studied abroad in England. How does one sum up this play? It’s about family, love, and sex. Even more so, it’s about oppression and putting people in boxes, forcing them to meet certain expectations, particularly gay people and women.

The first act is set in colonial Africa during the Victorian era, and then the second act jumps forward to 1979 in London. However, the characters have only aged 25 years, something my older seatmates across the way had a little trouble grasping, but don’t worry, we talked it out during intermission. This storytelling twist provides a unique opportunity to view this set of characters in two contradicting worlds, yet ironically, the standards and expectations of society seem not to change much between the two time periods. And as we watch this in the year 2015, we find that the topics of LBGT rights and feminism are just as ripe.

Cloud Nine is point blank and subtle all at once. It’s controversial and ordinary. It’s goofy and serious. Done in the round, this production, directed by James MacDonald and featuring a smart, excellent ensemble, accomplishes just what I think the play intends. I would love for you to go and tell me what you see. Do you think it makes a point? Do you think the point has been made before and it’s becoming trite? Or is this old play still bringing something new to the table?

The older folks sitting by me asked, “Is Caryl Churchill a feminist?” “Yes,” I replied. “Ohh, did she hate men?” I hope they are able to come away from this piece recognizing that those are two different things.

Note: the seating is not very comfortable. The bleachers that were constructed to allow for a more intimate, in-the-round performance are not ideal. The Atlantic is encouraging audience members to bring a pillow or small cushion to make their seat more comfortable. Usually I’m the first to complain about bad seating (my back issues makes me an easy target), but I did okay! It’s not a reason to skip the show.

Cloud Nine
Written by Caryl Churchill, Directed by James MacDonald
Atlantic Theater Company, Closes November 1st
Photo Credit: Doug Hamilton
Pictured: Lucy Owen and Chris Perfetti


The Gin Game

The Gin Game

Meh Option 1Do you know this play? I had never heard of The Gin Game until it was announced for this season. Written by D.L. Coburn, the two-hander (a play with only two characters) ran on Broadway in 1977, directed by Mike Nichols and starring Jessica Tandy and Hume Cronyn, and I was surprised to learn that it won the Pulitzer in 1978 for Drama. Thanks Wikipedia!

Now James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson star in the second Broadway revival, and albeit engaging and laugh-out-loud funny at times, the piece didn’t resonate with me. Perhaps I’m not the right demographic. When you boil it down, the title hits the nail on the head – The Gin Game basically consists of two elderly people playing gin for two hours. The conversation certainly wanders to other topics like their families, struggles, and lives before coming to the same nursing home, but the play lacks an event. Tensions rise as they bicker and fight over round after round of gin, but it doesn’t build to anything.

Jenn and I couldn’t help but wonder how successful this play can be, regionally let’s say, without powerhouses like Mr. Jones and Ms. Tyson in the roles of Weller and Fonsia. These two are royalty, and at 84 and 90 years old, respectively, carrying a two-person play is crazy impressive. However, if Mr. Jones weren’t up there, for example, Weller would be way less endearing of a character since, essentially, he verbally abuses Fonsia for the duration of the play, pushing and poking at her until she finally snaps back.

Here’s what I’ll say: if you’ve never had the chance to hear that voice live or see either of them perform, then go check it out. But the ticket is for them, not the play.

The Gin Game
Written by D.L. Coburn, Directed by Leonard Foglia
Golden Theatre, Closes January 10, 2016
Photo Credit: Joan Marcus
Pictured: James Earl Jones and Cicely Tyson


Rating System: Activate!

It is my absolute pleasure to introduce you to the one, the only – Becca Doodle.

Smile Option 1    Meh Option 1     Frown Option 1

 

 

 

 

Becca Doodle will be making appearances with my review posts from now on to give you a quick look as to how I feel about a show.

Designed and drawn by me with the most innovative of technology (ahem, Paint), Becca Doodle will help guide you as you make upcoming Broadway ticket-purchasing decisions. As you likely can gather, there’s happy Becca Doodle, sad Becca Doodle, and meh/somewhere-in-the-middle Becca Doodle (shout-out credit to Allie for the shrugging arms idea). This is really advanced stuff, I know, but go with me on this journey, and be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Becca Doodle’s future theatrical adventures!