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!


You Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me

Robin Williams

Robin Williams had one of those careers where you forget just how many momentous films he was in.

Of course, there are always the immediate ones that come to mind, a list that I’m sure varies from person to person. For me, it’s Aladdin, Hook, and Good Will Hunting. But then I scroll through his IMDB filmography, and I’m suddenly going down memory lane as I remember and realize how much my childhood was influenced and filled by his talent, humor, and presence. From watching FernGully on repeat, to Mork and Mindy, to Jumanji scaring the bejesus out of me with those enormous plastic spiders, to the iconic Mrs. Doubtfire, Robin was a constant in my young life.

And as I continue to sift through IMDB, I recall Dead Poets Society. Patch Adams. The Birdcage. Awakenings. One Hour Photo. And then there are the ones I have yet to see like What Dreams May Come, Toys, and Good Morning Vietnam (I know, I know. Maybe now I’ll finally get around to it). And that list doesn’t even touch half of the films he made – films which influenced audiences all around the world.

I don’t know how many of you watched his recent CBS show, The Crazy Ones (obviously not that many being that it didn’t get picked up for a second season). Nonetheless, I watched all of it and believe it was canceled prematurely. It was quirky and weird and maybe a little too out there, but it was hilarious and knew exactly what it wanted to be. Kind of like Robin.

I couldn’t fall asleep last night because I fell down the wormhole of watching clips and kept crying. As much as I’ve been saddened by some of the great actors we’ve lost in the last few years, this hits closer to home, as I imagine it might for many of the folks in my generation. We grew up with Mr. Williams. He shaped us. He taught us comedy, improvisation, voices, joy, and how to do an impression of a hot dog.

After I saw the news last night, I called my mom and said that I can’t believe we’re getting to a point where the generation of actors I grew up watching is dying. But we shouldn’t be there yet. Robin, you left us too soon. We will miss you and will continue to watch your films for years to come. Whenever we’re looking to be uplifted. Whenever we want to be inspired. And most importantly, whenever we’re in need of a laugh.

Bangarang, Peter.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-8255


Tony Tony Tony: A Recap

Tony Awards

So I know I’m beyond behind on my reviews, but I figure we should take a moment to discuss Sunday night’s Tony Awards. Did you watch? DVR it for later? I got comfortable in my pajamas and sat back to enjoy an evening of theatre. Here’s a brief look at my take on some of the highs and lows of the evening.

HIGHLIGHTS 

Jessie Mueller! Carole King! A wonderful performance and a much-deserved win for Miss Mueller as Best Leading Actress in a Musical. I haven’t even seen the show, and I love her! I do admit that I was also deeply rooting for Kelli O’Hara as it was her fifth nomination and she certainly deserves it after all these years. Perhaps next year for The King and I? Nonetheless, Jessie has been taking the theatre community by storm ever since On a Clear Day You Can See Forever. I’m stoked for her and can’t wait to see Beautiful.

Three words: Idina. Effin. Menzel. Well, let me back up. First there was Jonathan Groff’s brilliant introduction, and then the house was subsequently brought down with her If/Then 11 o’clock number. And yet, people haven’t been talking about it! I did not see my Facebook or Twitter feed freaking out afterward. Weren’t you watching, theatre fans? Honestly, in my eyes, this may have been the performance of the evening.

Also, let’s rejoice for Best Musical A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder – a fantastic performance and an even more hilarious introduction by Jefferson Mays. Let’s hear it for the underdog of the season actually getting its due with its multiple wins.

Cabaret and Alan Cumming? Solid of course.

James Monroe Iglehart’s praise shout.

Lena Hall’s heartfelt speech.

I also want to give a shout-out to Sutton for always being glorious.

And that Hedwig performance?? Yes! I’m so excited to see it in a few weeks!

And perhaps the ultimate highlight of the evening: Audra. Tears. Will Swenson. Tears. Standing ovation. More tears. Making history in two ways. For those of you who don’t know the momentousness of Audra’s win on Sunday for Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill, she is now the winner of the most Tony awards. She had five, tying with Angela Lansbury and Julie Harris, and now she has a whopping six, on top of the fact that she is now the only person who has won in all four performance categories! Audra McDonald = Queen of Broadway. Can she host next year?

LOWLIGHTS

Clint Eastwood and whatever that presenting was supposed to be.

The opening? I’m sorry, I just wasn’t into it. I do like how so many shows had cameos, and the awkward elevator ride with NPH was delightful, and I understand that they likely didn’t bother with a “traditional” opening number because it could never compete with last year’s. But seriously – Hugh Jackman just bouncing the whole time? Yes, I know it refers to something specific, but we’re really going to take an obscure reference and make it the centerpiece of a four-minute opening number? C’mon Tony writers, you can do better than that. You want more people to tune in? Don’t lose them in the first few minutes!

Sting, I’m bored.

Aladdin’s Friend Like Me was like watching a seizure on stage. And listen, if the funniest part of the song is when the Genie stops to sing from different Disney movies, then I think there’s an inherent problem with the show. People out there who want to spend money on Aladdin? I’m just saying – that’s the best you’re gonna get. They played their best hand on Sunday, so if you didn’t enjoy that number, you might want to reconsider your options.

Zach Braff’s hair.

I thought ROCKY was a musical. Also? Shortest fight ever.

This has been a common rant on Facebook and everywhere else so I won’t digress too long, but I will say I too am tired of the out-of-place Hollywood actors presenting. I love you Tina Fey, but why are you up there and not a Broadway vet? It’s all to improve ratings and get viewers, right? Well, ratings were lower this year. Maybe they should focus more on the theatre community and what we do best and feature more performances from the current season instead of a Music Man rap with LL Cool J and T.I.? Sure, The Bridges of Madison County closed, but couldn’t we get a song with Steven and Kelli? Anyway, more on that and the recent Tony Award Administration Committee ruling in a later post.

All in all, it was a relatively smooth evening without too many hitches, and we got to see some great numbers (go here to watch the rest of the performances). Here’s to another season of theatre!


Aladdin

Aladdin

So the critics and I haven’t been seeing eye-to-eye much of late. ROCKY received mostly negative reviews, and I think it’s one of the more exciting shows this season. Meanwhile, Aladdin received rave reviews, and to be honest with you, I didn’t think it was all that amazing. People are lapping this show up; the audience was on its feet before the bows even started. And I doubt the show will have much trouble selling tickets being that it’s…ya know, Disney’s Aladdin (albeit The Little Mermaid wasn’t much of a success).

Here’s the thing: this production is a huge and colorful spectacle, but ultimately, I thought it lacked heart – the heart that I feel is deeply a part of the movie. Lines taken directly from the film (lines that still make me cry despite having watched the movie a thousand times because it’s my favorite Disney flick) actually made me roll my eyes. I don’t think the show goes much deeper than the glitzy surface. Aladdin comes off as pretty bland, and it becomes even more apparent how much this hero lies.

My biggest complaint may be the cutting of the animals. Yeah, yeah, I know – it’s a new musical, it’s not the same as the movie, and I have to let certain things go. But I’m sorry! This is Disney! They have so much money. Figure out how to make Abu work instead of throwing him to the curb and giving Aladdin three pals who follow him around instead, churning out jokes like “I feel awful.” “Did someone say falafel?” Iago is still in it, but now he’s Jafar’s human sidekick. He does have some funny moments, but I want the parrot! Abu, Iago, and Raja are iconic characters. As far as I’m concerned, it’d be like doing Beauty & the Beast and cutting Lumiere, Cogsworth, and Mrs. Potts.

Oh, and I imagine you want to know about the flying carpet. Yes, the carpet does fly. It’s cool magic, and I don’t know how it’s done, but “A Whole New World” (one of my favorite songs of all time) falls short. The stage is dark except for the stars, and you can barely see the actors as the carpet makes its way all over the stage. The orchestrations are thinned out, and as a result, I didn’t feel the charge and excitement that typically comes hand in hand with that number.

Okay, enough negativity. Let me talk about the things that do work. You guys! Jafar is THE Jafar! Jonathan Freeman, the voice of the original Jafar, plays the role, and the kid in me definitely got a kick out of hearing him live. Some of the new songs are nice (written by Alan Menken and Chad Beguelin) and for the most part add to the story (A Million Miles Away is a lovely new tune).

Basically, the thing to know is that the Genie is the show. It should actually probably be called Genie. James Monroe Iglehart, who was also pretty darn fabulous in Memphis, gets another truly flashy role to show off his comedic and physical chops. “Friend Like Me” is an enormous production number and is the principal reason to buy a ticket. The way critics are saying it’s worth going to ROCKY for the last big fight? That’s what this song is. Nothing else matches it. (Speaking of which – why is it not the Act 1 Finale? I wonder if that’s changed since I saw it in previews. There are more scenes after that and another reprise of “Proud of Your Boy.” Bring the curtain down! Nothing can top that number!)

So listen, if you go see Aladdin, I’m sure you’ll enjoy yourself. I just felt like there were a lot of missed opportunities. There were more tricks and magic in the Finding Nemo production I saw at Animal Kingdom in Disney World. And the “wink wink nudge nudge” humor in the new material becomes so dominant that when you get to the deep-down spirit of story, the energy drops. The show is still fun as a whole, and the target audience will certainly be entertained. As for me, I think if more time had been spent on the heart of the show rather than all the mugging, I might have walked away feeling differently.

Aladdin
Music by Alan Menken, Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice, Book and Lyrics by Chad Beguelin, Directed by Casey Nicholaw
New Amsterdam Theatre, Open-Ended
Photo Credit: Cylla von Tiedemann
Pictured: Adam Jacobs