Showing posts with label national tour. Show all posts
Showing posts with label national tour. Show all posts

04 August 2018

Motherhood Saves THE WAITRESS at The Pantages!

Charity Angel Dawson, Desi Oakley, Lenne Klingaman. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Waitress the musical has rolled into Los Angeles as part of its first national tour. With music and lyrics by Sarah Bareilles and a book by Jessie Nelson, the show is a very entertaining and fast paced musical comedy that pays tribute to the original motion picture written by Adrienne Shelly. The music by Sarah Bareilles will have you most likely tapping your feet for most of the show and Jessie Nelson's fast-paced Book will have you checking your watch at intermission in amazement at how quickly the time is gone without thinking the story was too quickly moved along for the sake of time.

For those of you that don't know the movie starring Kerri Russell and Nathan Fillion, the story revolves around Jenna, Played here by the incredibly talented Desi Oakley, a pie baker and waitress in an undisclosed Southern State. Jenna is surrounded by two of her best friends at the pie diner she works at whom are played by the equally charming and talented Lenne Klingaman and Charity Angel Dawson. She is also unfortunately in an abusive marriage with Earl, played scarily well by Nick Bailey, and finds himself pregnant with the baby she does not want. That leads her to meeting the new doctor in town, Dr. Pomatter, played by adorable Brian Fenkart who reminded this reviewer of the original Dr. Pomatter played by Nathan Fillion. Against her best instinct, Jenna begins an affair with her doctor while trying to save enough money to enter a pie baking contest and with the winnings leave her husband Earl.
Lenne Klingaman, Jeremy Morse. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Before what appeared like a jam packed audience on opening night at the Pantages in Hollywood California, the actors received countless laughs and heavy applause for nearly every scene and/or song. Surprisingly the strongest and lengthiest applause went to supporting actor Jeremy Morse who plays Dawn's nerdy but winsome suitor, Ogie.

The second strongest applause of the night rightfully so went to leading lady Desi Oakley for her 11 o'clock number "She used to be mine". Personally, my girlfriend's favorite numbers were the relatively lighthearted baking numbers in Act I such as Desi Oakley's "What's inside" and "what baking can do". My favorite number was the redeeming second act "Everything changes" by Desi Oakley once again. Seriously that lady has one incredible Voice that I could listen to all day!

Vocally this was one of the strongest casts I have had the pleasure of hearing in quite some time without a single low note. All three leading ladies were fabulous in their roles and the supporting gentlemen who Played their love interests were entertaining and carried their own musical numbers brilliantly.
Maiesha McQueen, Desi Oakley, Bryan Fenkart. Photo by Joan Marcus.
Because of the questionable adult content that appear to have been amped up since the 2007 movie, I was perplexed as to whether I should be rooting for extra marital affairs on two of the ladies parts and whether this was even a show I should be recommending. For that reason neither of the three romantic interest could be classified as a true hero. Like my friend said, there were no literal villains aside from the abusive husband, who gave one of the most well-rounded performances of the show, but you just can't like a man that carries on an affair while seemingly in a happy marriage with a woman who we see with our own eyes trusts and adores him, at least if you're brought up to believe affairs are a no no.

Desi Oakley and Larry Marshall. Photo by Joan Marcus.
The redeeming heroes of the story have to be supporting actors Larry Marshall as Joe, the proprietor of the pie shop, and the hilarious Meisha McQueen as Nurse Norma. Both Marshall and McQueen give the best eye rolls and meaningful looks when faced with the evidence of Jenna's affair with Dr. Pomatter. Similarly they are given the best lines.
"You probably shouldn't be having no affair... Not to mention the pain you could cause to other people.... Leave your husband fair and square and [after] smudge your lipstick with whomever the h*** you want." - Joe.
SPOILERS: But really it is motherhood that finally gives Jenna the chance to break free from the bad relationships she is in and choices she has made leading up to this. When faced with her pregnancy, Jenna never considers abortion, a decision that earns two thumbs up from this reviewer and makes the character likable for deciding to go through with an unwanted pregnancy despite being in an abusive marriage she's trying to crawl out. However she does not deny her lack of interest in this baby. All that changes when she meets her baby girl, Lulu, who she sings about in the gorgeous "Everything Changes":
You've saved me/ My blurry lines, my messy life/ Coming to focus and in time, maybe I can heal and I can breathe/ Cause I can feel myself believe
Ryan G. Dunkin and the Cast of the National Tour of WAITRESS. Photo by Joan Marcus.
All in all the musical is very faithful to the 2017 movie aside from the unnecessary comedic sexual scenes where characters stimulated sex that made me glad I had not gone to see this show with a guy friend or my father. The music and lyrics by Sara Bareilles are catchy and entertaining. The lyrics for the most part are plot driven. Jessie Nelson's book was faithful to the dialogue from the late Adrienne Shelly's movie and the story plot moved fluently along with clever use of the staging and set design by Scott Pask. The decision to include the minimal band on stage as part of the diner was brilliant and similar to last year's tour of Bright Star at the Ahmanson it was great to see the cast interact with the musicians which helped create an organic environment.

Again a shout out to the brilliantly talented cast that could hardly be any better than any Broadway casting I imagine. And a special shout out to ensemble member Gerianne Perez (understudy for Dawn) whom my eyes kept drifting towards whenever the ensemble was featured.

Now who is this show appropriate for? I would personally recommend leaving the kids at home and any young teenagers who are not ready to deal with the adult content, referring primarily to Jenna's abusive marriage and the two extra marital affairs going on. Also bear in mind the sexual scenes where characters simulate sex. They may not remove their clothes but nothing much is left to the imagination and it's hard to know if the writers are encouraging the audience to support and applaud the choice for sex outside of marriage. There is also adult language with numerous uses of the Lord's name in vain.

In closing, a shot shout out to the producers for the brilliant idea of having pies in a jar for sale in the lobby. The price is high. At $10 dollars you can easily get yourself a slice of pie at Marie Callendars or dessert at Cheesecake Factory and still have change left over. However it makes for a fun souvenir with the glass jar you can keep and a great experience of eating pie while watching the ladies on stage baking away and some of the characters even eating the pies that are apparently provided by Whole Foods. I asked the lady selling pies if these were Sara Lee pie and she said someone else baked them. She would not disclose any more information.
Pies in a Jar sold at the concession stand. Photo by The Joyous Living.
Also beware that apparently they are only allowed to give out one spoon with each jar purchase. So if you plan on sharing like we did, either grab a napkin to wipe off the spoon in case you are a germaphobe or packing your bag a small sample spoon as you would get it at any gelato or ice cream shop. In Los Angeles your choices for pi are Apple crumble and chocolate salted caramel. We tested out the chocolate salted caramel and found to be delicious, creamy, but very rich. So it was a good thing we shared because I don't know if I could finish to myself.
Pies in a Jar sold outside the auditorium doors. Photo by The Joyous Living.

If you're going to buy a pie in a jar, I suggest skipping the bar which is crowded and head straight to the table of pies by the auditorium doors which was much less crowded.

Enjoy the show that celebrates girlfriends and motherhood! And apparently this will be Desi Oakley's last stop on the tour so if you can I would highly recommend getting tickets for the Pantages stop in order to witness her fabulous performance.

Dates: 2 - 26 August 2018
Tickets: $49+
Location: Hollywood Pantages, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA
Parking: See Hollywood Pantages' parking suggestions here.
Appropriate Ages: 16+ due to adult languages, sexual situations and thematic content
Accessible Questions: See Hollywood Pantages' accessibility page here.

And if you are looking for a Spotify playlist as you head into LA to see Desi and the cast of Waitress in August, try her "Baker's Dozen" Spotify Playlist here.

PS-I used apples dictation app for my review due to my disability so please accept my apologies for any terrible spelling errors and grammatical errors.

29 July 2018

WAITRESS Arrives in LA on Thursday!

Coming THIS WEEK to Hollywood!

Brought to life by a groundbreaking all-female creative team, this irresistible new hit features original music and lyrics by 6-time Grammy® nominee Sara Bareilles ("Brave," "Love Song"), a book by acclaimed screenwriter Jessie Nelson (I Am Sam) and direction by Tony Award® winner Diane Paulus (Pippin, Finding Neverland). "It's an empowering musical of the highest order!" raves the Chicago Tribune.

Inspired by Adrienne Shelly's beloved film, WAITRESS tells the story of Jenna (Desi Oakley). A waitress and expert pie maker, Jenna dreams of a way out of her small town and loveless marriage. A baking contest in a nearby county and the town's new doctor may offer her a chance at a fresh start, while her fellow waitresses offer their own recipes for happiness. But Jenna must summon the strength and courage to rebuild her own life.

Dates: 2 - 26 August 2018
Tickets: $49+
Location: Hollywood Pantages, 6233 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, CA
Parking: See Hollywood Pantages' parking suggestions here.
Appropriate Ages: 16+ due to adult languages and thematic content
Accessible Questions: See Hollywood Pantages' accessibility page here.

And if you are looking for a Spotify playlist as you head into LA to see Desi and the cast of Waitress in August, try her "Baker's Dozen" Spotify Playlist here.

12 January 2018

Motown: A Jukebox Musical with Sass and Rhythm!

Motown, the U.S. non-equity national tour, is currently in town for the weekend (Jan 11-14 2018) bringing musical joy to its Southern California audience with its jam-packed jukebox musical (over 50 hit numbers such as "ABC" and "Stop in the Name of Love").
Unfortunately the opening night (11 Jan) was marred by a fire alarm unexplainably going off just before the grand finale but hopefully all other performances will run smoothly. The joys and pitfalls of live theater. ⌣ But that is not going to ruin my memories of the great night out. Aside from hearing the amazing hit numbers live, the audience on 11 January were treated to fantastic foot work choreographed by Brian Harlan Brooks and many from the 'older' generations were able to laugh and clap aloud to moments that skipped over my 33 year old head (whoops, hehe) such as Rob McCaffrey's top notch Ed Sullivan interpretation that was the cause for many chortles and laughs from the audience. And dare I not mention all the incredible vocalists in the cast with hardly a weak note among them. 
Chase Phillips as Michael Jackson. Photo by Joan Marcus.
If one had to pick out the weakest performance it would also have be one of the audience's favorites -- Chase Phillips (who rotates with Kai Calhoun) playing the roles of Young Berry Gordy/Stevie Wonder/Michael Jackson. His turn as a young Michael Jackson sees him on stage with the other Jackson 5 singing and dancing to memorable numbers such as "ABC". Unfortunately midway through his second number he did get winded and lost some steam but man did the audience love the kid. He is so full of energy and excitement and charisma. How can you not adore him?
Trenyce and Kenneth Mosley. Photo by Michael Pool.
But it is the show's 2 stars who will have you coming back for more and more. Being that this is a jukebox musical, the storyline tends to be limited and weak to make room for the infectious dancing and singing. However leading man Kenneth Mosley who stars as Berry Gordy is able to keep the rhythm flowing and prevents the show from dragging during the mini vignettes highlighting his personal life and highs and lows with Motown Records. He also knows how to tug at the heartstrings with his warming rendition of "To Be Loved" in the First Act.
Trenyce as Diana Ross. Photo by Michael Pool.
Trenyce in American Idol. Photo Credit: American Idol.
And even though the ensemble is filled to the brim with incredible vocalists such as Justin Reynolds (Smokey Robinson) and Matt Manuel (Marvin Gaye) the show ultimately belongs to leading lady and American Idol alumni, Trenyce, as Diana Ross.

Trenyce seamlessly takes Diana Ross from a young high school senior full of sass and spunk to a big time singer dealing with a business-personal relationship with Gordy to an unhappy superstar who sees no future with her lover. [Interestingly the show does not touch on the fact Diana Ross was 2 months pregnant with Gordy's daughter when she married her first husband Silberstein.] And the way she is able to connect with the audience at the top of the Second Act was brilliant. Trenyce is a talent that saw a too brief career on American Idol Season 2 and hopefully will no longer be hidden in the background after she takes the country by storm with her sensational performance as Diana Ross. This is one lady who deserves a big break and could easily carry this role in an equity production.

While the mediocre scenic design by David Korins (high praise to Projection Designer Daniel Brodie for making the most of the space) and minuscule "orchestra" under the baton of Conductor/Keyboard 1 Matthew Croft scream non-equity tour, the sensational casting by Wojcik and Seay Casting and the gorgeous costume design by Emilio Sosa all but makes up for it. And a big thank you to Director Charles Randolph-Wright for his delicate and appropriate approach to the social context surrounding Motown (JFK, Martin Luther King Jr., Martin Gaye, etc.) using Kenneth Mosley's calm presence as Gordy as a voice of reason in a time of hostile.

So do yourself a favor... turn off the television, stop reading the depressing news and get a ticket to see the enchanting and thoroughly entertaining Motown the Musical! You'll be clapping along, shaking your head with laughter and humming a tune or two on the way out...

Current Location: Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
Prices: $34-89 + fees
Parking: $8 Cash Only
Age Appropriateness: 13+ (adult language)
Accessible: YES! Read my review of the TOCAP's accessibility here.

01 December 2017

Brilliant!: Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

Last night the non equity tour of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder opened in Thousand Oaks for a brief weekend stay thanks to Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza and Theater League. And what a riot it was! If you recall, I absolutely loved the great equity tour that came through LA last year but wow this show was tremendous too with an A+ cast, all the same terrific sets and costumes and projections and fabulous direction from tour director Peggy Hickey.

A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder won the 2014 Tony Awards for Best Musical, Best Book of a Musical, Best Direction of a Musical and Best Costume Design. They also won the 2014 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Projection Design (Aaron Rhyne). And after seeing last week's opening night performance I am convinced each of those awards was well deserved.

What makes the tour so incredible has to be the fresh and talented cast led by Blake Price as Monty and James Taylor Odom as the D'ysquith Family. And there was not a weak member of the cast! Ensemble member Kristen Antoinette Kane's turn as Miss Shingle helped introduce the plot to the audience with her A+ comedic timing, hilarious voices and flat out sensational singing sure set the bar high for the rest of the cast and boy did they deliver. Price and Odom were both on point 100% of the time with great chemistry, fabulous comedic timing and sublime solos such as Act II "Sibella". Their leading ladies (Colleen McLaughlin and Erin McIntyre) sang like angels, in particular Ms. McIntyre whom is just now making her U.S. Debut after performing in Europe. I would have paid good money to see Ms. McIntye's Christine Daae. 

The cast truly seemed deserving of the standing ovation they received last night at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza where they are performing through Sunday. I just regret that not all the jokes seemed to be comprehended and appreciated by the audience and yes the crude humor remains and seemed even more awkward the second time. Oh well.

If you are concerned about the quality because of the fact it is a non equity tour, the only weakness I found to be was that there was a very sparse orchestra. But thankfully there were at least some professional musicians unlike that ghastly Ragtime tour that used prerecorded music.

Only 5 more performances in Thousand Oaks before heading to El Paso!
  • Friday, December 1, 2017: 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Decmeber 2, 2017: 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 2, 2017: 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 3, 2017: 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 3, 2017: 7:30 p.m.

Show: A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murderj (Non Equity Tour)
Current Location: Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
Prices: $34-89 + fees
Parking: $8 Cash Only
Age Appropriateness: 13+, thematic elements and some crude humor
Accessible: YES! Read my review of the TOCAP's accessibility here.

30 November 2017

This Weekend: Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder

HI guys!
Cast of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder.
Don't forget... this weekend the non-equity tour of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is stopping in Thousand Oaks, CA, for 6 performances:

  • Thursday, November 30, 2017: 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, December 1, 2017: 8 p.m.
  • Saturday, Decmeber 2, 2017: 2 p.m.
  • Saturday, December 2, 2017: 8 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 3, 2017: 2 p.m.
  • Sunday, December 3, 2017: 7:30 p.m.
Starring a young and energized cast, many of whom are on their first national tour, the 2017 is the follow-up to the 2016 equity tour that was at the Ahmanson Theatre last spring that had audiences cracking up with laughter non-stop at all the great jokes and pranks and the fabulous projections and sets.

Show: A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murderj (Non Equity Tour)
Current Location: Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza
Prices: $34-89 + feesParking: $8 Cash Only
Age Appropriateness: 13+, thematic elements and some crude humor
Accessible: YES! Read my review of the TOCAP's accessibility here.

03 February 2017

Dirty Dancing: Blast from the 80s!

Dirty Dancing the Musical is a fresh blast from the 80's with phenomenal dancing and the great songs we love!
Bronwyn Reed and Christopher Tierney. Photo by Matthew Murphy.

28 January 2017

Dirty Dancing: Meet Alyssa Brizzi!

Folks! Meet Alyssa Brizzi, currently playing Lisa (Baby's sister) in the U.S. tour of Dirty Dancing just in time for the blockbuster movie's 30th anniversary...
Alyssa was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada. Growing up, she trained with The National Ballet School of Canada in Toronto, The Royal Winnipeg Ballet, and Banff Ballet. She could be seen most recently in, Idaho! The Comedy Musical at the Smith Center in Las Vegas as Belle and Dream Cassie. Some of her past credits include The Broadway National Tour of Beauty and the Beast as the swing and dance captain, Mystic Rhythms at Tokyo DisneySea, HairsprayWest Side StoryHigh School MusicalGypsyBig the Musical, and as a finalist on CBC’s reality television series, Triple Sensation. Alyssa would like to thank her family for their constant love and support as well as the wonderful creative of Dirty Dancing!

29 March 2016

Gentleman's Guide is GENIUS!

Kristen Beth Williams, Kevin Massey, Adrienne Eller. Photo: Joan Marcus
The equity national tour of A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder is playing at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles through 1 May.

You are not going to want to miss out on this rollicking fun and ingenious musical romp starring John Rapson and Kevin Massey. So grab yourself a cuppa and keep reading...

25 March 2016

Ragtime Has No Live Orchestra

Leslie Jackson & Chris Sams. Photo by Scott Suchman
Ragtime opened to a full audience last night at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza. The original 1998 Broadway production received 12 Tony nominations and won for Best Orchestrations, Best Score and Best Book of a Musical, rightly so. So how does this non-equity U.S. national tour compare?

21 March 2016

Ragtime: Chris Sams Speaks Out

Chris Sams as Coalhouse Walker Jr. and the citizens of New Rochelle, N.Y. in RAGTIME. Photo by Scott Suchman
Ragtime, the 1975 book turned 1998 Broadway musical with a Tony Award®-winning score by Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, is making its way back to Thousand Oaks, California as part of a non-equity tour, for six glorious performances at the Fred Kavli Theatre starting 24 March 2016! Leading man, Chris Sams, plays Coalhouse Walker, Jr., a black pianist who represents African Americans at the turn of the century seeking equal rights and justice. It was with great delight that this blogger had a chance to have a quick chat with Chris about his role in Ragtime and what makes it such a relevant musical in 2016.

24 February 2016

Oh What a Night! Jersey Boys Delights.

Keith Hines, Aaron de Jesus, Drew Seeley & Matthew Dailey. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.
Jersey Boys, the Broadway National Tour, is back in Southern California and making quite a splash at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza with their limited six day run (23-28 February 2016).

15 February 2016

Jersey Boys: Q&A with Drew Seeley

Jersey Boys, the 2005 jukebox musical featuring music by Bob Gaudio, lyrics by Bob Crewe and a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, has been wowing audiences worldwide. Reviewing the London production, The Times' critic Benedict Nightingale echoed the general belief that "there were times when...the performers were making even the Beatles sound somewhat lacking in musical texture". And for the past year and a half (since October 2014), Drew Seeley (perhaps best known for his collaborations with Disney) "adds a nice balance to the group, toning down the Jersey mobster vibe--think of him as light Italian" according to Broadway World. So pull up a chair, grab a cuppa and let's talk with Mr. Seeley about everything from the show to Sopranos to Gene Kelly...

The Joyous Living: Hi! Aside from the obvious (your experience as a performer, songwriter and collaborator), anything unique and similar between yourself and Bob Gaudio?
Drew: My real life mirrors Gaudio’s in that he is an introvert who is okay with someone else taking the spotlight (such as Frankie Valli).

The Joyous Living: What has been your favorite role to date?
Drew: GLΩRY DAZΣ (a period drama-comedy that aired on TBS from 2010-2011).

The Joyous Living: Any roles you would love to tackle?
Drew: A biopic about Gene Kelly or Fred Astaire (where I can utilize my dancing experience).

The Joyous Living: Which are your favorites of the love anthems that Bob Gaudio helped pen?
Drew: "Can’t Take My Eyes Off You"  is a personal favorite and "Cry For Me" is my great big solo in Jersey Boys -- real jazzy.
Keith Hines, Aaron de Jesus, Drew & Matthew Dailey. Photo by Jeremy Daniel.
The Joyous Living: What is your personal favorite anthem?
Drew: The Resolution is a compilation of my all time favorite songs including “Acceptance Speech” that is both poetic and old school.

The Joyous Living: What is currently playing on your iPhone?
Drew: Currently listening to St. Lucia and similar chill/groove rock music thanks to my Spotify subscription.

The Joyous Living: Any plans for after the tour?
Drew: I am currently signed on through Tampa and then who knows? Might come back to LA or continue on tour. No definite plans yet.

The Joyous Living: Do you have any pre-show or post-show routines and rituals?
Before the show:
  • App: “Warm Me Up
  • Read in dressing room (Just finished The Sicilian and about to start the Stephen King book, 11/22/63, about a time traveler who attempts to prevent the JFK assassination.)
After the show:
  • A whiskey and watching some Stephen Colbert or the political debates are a great way to wind down. 
The Joyous Living: What are you most looking forward to about your week in Thousand Oaks (23-28 February 2016)?
Drew: Being home! Being able to see friends and Amy.

The Joyous Living: How would you best describe the musical Jersey Boys to someone who has never seen the film or stage show?
Drew: It is like a rock concert  - energetic! A great show to especially bring a guy to. It's like an episode of THE SOPRANOS with great music thrown in!

The Joyous Living: Lastly, any advice for a kid with special needs who dreams of being a songwriter or performer?
Drew: Don’t let life situations limit your mind. Everyone has obstacles. You can do anything if you don’t limit yourself mentally. Positive self talk is crucial. Be grateful for what you have and use life to bring other people up and the right things will find you!!

Big thanks to Drew for his time and a small peek inside his life on tour with Jersey Boys!! For those of you in the L.A./Thousand Oaks area, you will not want to miss the equity tour's week at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza!

Venue: Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, 2100 Thousand Oaks Blvd., Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
Tickets: Available at Ticketmaster or the Box Office (1-800-745-3000)
Dates: 23-28 February 2016

24 September 2015

Coming Soon: The Sound of Music

Kerstin Anderson. Photo by Matthew Murphy.
The wait is over! Jack O'Brien's new and lavish tour of The Sound of  Music is here in L.A. at the Ahmanson Theatre starring Broadway favorites, Ben Davis ("La Boheme", "Violet", "A Little Night Music") and Ashley Brown ("Mary Poppins"), as Captain von Trapp and The Mother Abbess respectively.  Alongside newcomer, Kerstin Anderson, as Maria Rainer, they helm this production that is currently in previews before the grand opening on Wednesday, 30 September 2015, at 8pm.

18 June 2015

Phantom 2.0 Lacks Chemistry

Katie Travis and Chris Mann. Photo by: Matthew Murphy & Alastair Muir
The Phantom of the Opera is back in Los Angeles at the Pantages Theatre, after the 3rd national tour shuttered here in 2010. This re-imagined tour has the same beloved score, those gorgeous costumes are back (aside from the Red Death mask) and the familiar love triangle. The changes are however dramatic and can be quite jarring for anyone who has seen the original production. New staging by Laurence Connor, new design by Paul Brown and added dialogue are the most disconcerting changes and can even cause confusion for first-time watchers. (Potential spoilers to follow).

08 June 2015

Matilda Opens On the Road

Matilda the musical (the first equity U.S. tour) opened at LA's Ahmanson Theatre last night. The audience and I were thoroughly impressed with the cast, catchy numbers and high energy choreography and staging. Matilda is played by three young actors on rotation (Mia Sinclair Jenness at the opening night performance) and there is no denying that the 9 year old effortlessly carries the show with her wittiness, spunk, grace, charm, and triple threat performance.
Mia Sinclair Jenness and cast in Matilda. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
Those familiar with the 1998 book by Roald Dahl will be able to follow the story through the different plot twists and turns. Anyone who's seen the film with Danny DeVito can also follow the gist of the story but be forewarned that Matilda's telekinesis is only a small part of the musical in comparison. For those who are enjoying Matilda for the first time, grab a copy of the book from the local library or bring your best ears with you because the British accents are heavy and often portions of dialogue are difficult to catch.
Company of Matilda. (Photo by Joan Marcus)
The Wormwoods. Photo by Joan Marcus
What makes Matilda the musical a joy to see aren't the musical numbers (that with few exceptions are often forgettable and jarring) nor the handful of colorful adult characters. In fact it is not even the storytelling that similar with the book moves at an alarming pace from farce to irony to empathy and back again that you. A talented troupe of child actors make this a must-see show. It is their show no matter the fact that for some crazy reason the children (sans Matilda) take the first bow before the adult ensemble.

These children ARE the show with their scene stealing scenes, numbers and one-liners. SHOUT-OUT: One child actor whom I could not take my eyes off every single time she was on stage was Cassidy Hagel (Alice) who on occasion also plays Lavender (Matilda's best friend) and Amanda.

I previously mentioned that the musicals were for the most part forgettable and jarring. Allow me to clarify that there are certain numbers that you'll likely be humming on the way out to the car park ($9 per car at the CTG).  Personally, I loved the second act's numbers: When I Grow Up (with the delightful swings), I'm Here (sung by Matilda and The Escape Artist, Justin Packard), and My House (sung by Miss Honey, Jennifer Blood, and The Escape Artist, Justin Packard) and the catchy Revolting Children.

Who Should See This Show: I highly recommend this show to young families (ages 6+), book lovers and those who are looking for a good heartwarming and humorous spot of entertainment.

Where to Sit: I was seated in Row A of the Mezzanine and the view was perfect allowing me to take in all the action on stage. I would recommend a center stage seat in one of the first few rows of either the Orchestra or Mezzanine.
When To Best Visit: Unknown as the performance schedule for the young actors is unknown.

The L.A. engagement of Matilda the Musical is running through the 12th of July 2015 before the tour heads out to 26 further locations including: San Francisco (15 July - 15 August 2015), Seattle (18 August - 6 September 2015) and Denver (9 September - 20 September 2015).

For tickets at the Ahmanson Theatre, you may call the box office (213.972.4444), order online here, or visit the box office in person. There are also $25 Hot Tix available (see here for more information).

03 June 2015

Matilda Opens in LA on Sunday!

LA, Roald Dahl's Matilda opens at the Ahmanson Theatre this Sunday (7 June) at 4pm!
Mia Sinclair Jenness, Gabby Gutierrez and Mabel Tyler in the National Tour of "Matilda The Musical."
You're not going to want to miss TIME Magazine's #1 Show of the Year that has won 50+ international awards including the Olivier and Tony Awards.

Performances run through the 12th of July 2015 before the first equity national tour crosses the country bringing this gem to families all over the nation.

Location: Ahmanson Theatre, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Tickets: $25-130, available in person, online or by phone (213-972-4400)
Recommended Age: 6+

I can't wait to share with y'all my review of opening night. Hope to see some of you there!