Mamma Mia!

I meant to write this on Friday, or at least over the weekend, but this is me we’re talking about! On Thursday I saw the North American tour of Mamma Mia!, and I was decidedly underwhelmed by the performance. I wanted to get the word out that it was not worth your time or money before it left town, but alas, it left yesterday, so I didn’t help out any Chicagoans, but maybe the good people of Sioux Falls, SD or Manhattan, KS or elsewhere on this exclusive tour will heed my warning and stay home.

I saw this show about ten years ago, and I remember being blown away. I walked out of there happy and dance-y, and raved about it for years to come. I eagerly watched the movie and purchased the CD of the soundtrack (yes, the CD, and yes it was only a few years ago, don’t ask), so I was really excited to see it again. Excited, but not excited enough to purchase a full-priced ticket, so I kept my eyes peeled until I found $25 tickets (via Broadway in Chicago’s facebook page), which I am SO thankful I did. I would be one angry theatre-goer if I had spent any more than I did to see this show.

The singing was not bad, except for the fella who played Sky. I’ll tell you what, that kid couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket! Can you say “Awkward!”? (awkward!) Other than that, it wasn’t bad, but it definitely was not good. The female leads held their own, the males not so much, but I just sensed that the actors were very sad and were just going through the motions. Maybe they were sad, but their job as an actor is to pull it together and personify what is written in the script. Frankly, I don’t care if you are borderline suicidal or if your great aunt Gertrude just died, we all forked over our hard earned money to watch you ACT. If you can’t do that, then don’t be an actor.

It wasn’t but a few minutes into the show that found my mind wandering to the auditions these people must have bombed in order to end up on this tour. I’m sure they all tried out for Wicked, Mary Poppins, The Book of Mormon, and the like, and didn’t land those roles for reasons obvious to anyone who was in that theatre. Next, I started to guess who was sleeping with who, and then I almost fell asleep about four times. In Mamma Mia!. The musical equivalent of Disney World. It was just all wrong.

The most invigorating performance was the “encore” they do at curtain call. The entire cast sings two or three of ABBA’s most recognizable tunes, and this was pretty much the only part worth our $36, because they were actually in sync and seemed happy (probably happy to be done with the show so they could go get drunk or slit their wrists). I admit I’m being harsh, but if I had spent what I usually spend on musical theater tickets (anywhere from $50-$150), I would be irate. So maybe someone will read this and save their money. If you really want to see Mamma Mia!, rent the movie. Or hell, if your local high school or community center is putting it on, check that out. It could not be any worse than this!

Sidenote: to the woman who opened a bag of chips and proceeded to loudly consume them during the first act, STFU! Thankfully an usher came up and told her to stop, and the lady disappeared after the first act. This should go without saying, but keep your loud ass snacks at home! Or enjoy them at intermission. But for the love of god, shut the fuck up during the actual performance, even if it was the most craptacular musical I’ve seen in ten years. The subpar production quality does not give you the right to give your best elephant-eating-peanuts impression mid-show.

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Mary Poppins

I’ve decided that I want to say a little something about the shows I see, not so much to share my awesome insight with the adoring public, but so I remember what I saw, when I saw it, and what I thought. So I’ll start with Mary Poppins, which I saw for the first time back in October. Before I discovered a travelzoo deal for the show, I was hesitant to see it because I knew it was different than the movie, which I adore, and I was afraid I wouldn’t like it.

The musical follows the general plot line of the movie, with a number of changes that were necessary to bring the story to the stage. The two kids are insufferable, and the Banks family can’t keep a nanny to save their lives (I certainly wouldn’t work for them!). The kids make a big list of what they’d like in a nanny, the dad tears it up, and poof! Mary Poppins is in their house, reporting for nanny duty. Which is kind of creepy, if you think about it, but after seeing this I have decided that Mary Poppins is some sort of witch. I can’t believe I didn’t see it before.

The production itself was phenomenal, almost magical. The acting on the part of the adults was great, from Bert and Mary down to the ensemble, who had to make tons of costume and make up changes. I’m still baffled as to how they did it! Bert, the jolly chimney sweep, shows off his athletic prowess in the song “Step in Time” when he scales the side of the stage and proceeds to tap dance across the top of the stage, upside down. At my first show (I saw it twice), I was seated in the front row so I was able to see that he was literally tap dancing on this platform that wheeled from one side to another. It was awesome. There was also a really cool kite scene, and then, of course, Mary makes her glorious exit by way of flying umbrella.

The special effects were cool, but my favorite part of the show was Mary herself. I just kept staring at her in awe, thinking, “Boy, that Mary Poppins is one smug bitch.” I meant that in the nicest way possible. She was as kind as you’d expect an old timey magical nanny to be, but she just had this all-knowing personality with a sassy edge that I wish I had. She was cheeky and kind of snarky, but it was the kind of bitchiness you admire. At least I do! I actually met the actress who played her, and with trepidation (I didn’t want her to take it the wrong way), I told her what I thought–the smug bitch thing–and she laughed and was actually quite pleased with my comment. She told me that the director had been telling her to “act more stuck up,” which she did beautifully.

The biggest downfall of this production, for me, was the children. I know they were probably directed to act like holy terrors, but the girl I saw took it way too far. I was so annoyed with her that I found myself averting my eyes to a different part of the stage whenever she was on. I saw the show a second time from the balcony so I could get a better view of Mary flying, and I was hoping that the other girl (there were two girls and two boys covering the parts of Jane and Michael) would go on, but she didn’t, so I don’t know if my annoyance is with this one particular child or with all of them. The boy was not as bad as the girl, but even though he wasn’t awful, they both came across as unprofessional, unpolished, and somewhat unaware of their lines or choreography. So I didn’t like the kids in the show, particularly the gal, which was a disappointment since they play such a big role in the story.

All in all, I loved this show. I would not hesitate to see it again, especially because the kids I saw performing will likely be too tall for their roles by the time I next see it. Let’s hope the new batch is better! Oh, and I want to mention the song “Feed the Birds,” because it was the most emotional part of the show, I definitely had tears in my eyes during that number. I don’t know what it is about that scene, it makes me cry!

If you have the chance to check out this musical, I would highly recommend it. If you’ve seen it, let me know what you think!

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My First Meme

My internetz pal Aunt Becky made this meme (Meme?), which I’m not even sure what that me-means (see number one below), but it seems as good of place as any to jump back on the blog bus.

1) What does Meme mean?

Even after thoroughly skimming the “Meme” Wikipedia page, I have no idea. But using context clues and critical thinking, I can infer that it’s like one of those surveys we used to do first via email, then Myspace, then Facebook (by a few stragglers with nothing better to do), and apparently now via blog. I think it should be called a Me? Me! instead.

(UPDATE: Apparently it’s not pronounced “me-me”, but I still have no idea how you say it… perhaps MEEM, which now makes me think it’s the skyscraper of Houghton, but it’s not that, and it’s also not a cRaZy FuN TyMe InTeRnEtZ sUrVeY, it’s something about a cultural something or another, don’t ask me!)

2) 2011 – Was it all you’d hoped it would be?

I don’t recall having any specific hopes going into 2011, so I guess technically it was more than I hoped for. To be sure, there were some rocky patches, but I also did some of the coolest stuff I will probably ever do in my life, so 2011 was a little bit of everything.

3) Did you watch the Royal Wedding?

Of course I did, don’t be ridiculous!

4) Where are your pants?

Surrounding my butt and legs, and also strewn variously around my bedroom.

5) Is Justin Bieber human or some sort of robot?

He’s Canadian. And yes, I’m a Belieber.

6) If you had only one thing to wish for this coming year, what would it be?

I wish health and happiness for all my friends and family, and me. I know that’s pretty vague, but it’s true. I’d also like to run a half marathon (okay, you can all stop laughing now) (come on, it’s not that preposterous, is it?) (yeah, it is).

7) Would you call yourself a “social media maven?”

God no! I hope I’m not whatever that is.

8 ) If you had to take three things to a desert island (let’s assume you have ample food and water), what would they be?

An ice machine (otherwise I’d go thirsty).

Everything Gregory Maguire has ever written.

Climbing gear like ropes and pulleys and caribiners so I could climb trees and the like with reckless abandon.

9) If you had the ability to banish certain offenses to an island where they would be rehabilitated into being okay again, what would those offenses be?

I’d send meat-eaters to a special island with a restaurant where if you order rotting carcass, you are taken out back to perform the slaughter of the animal you are about to consume yourself. Maybe giving an actual face (and terrified screams and futile struggling) to the faces of the animals would force people to think twice about their nasty meat addiction.

10) How do YOU think the air conditioner works?

Angel farts.

11) Do you ACTUALLY think you can make money blogging?

Hellz no.

12) There’s a lot of talk in the blog world about microblogging (The Tumblr, The Twitter, The Facebook) taking over traditional blogs. Do you think that’s the case?

I don’t think it’s taking over, but who am I to say? I think it’s more like supplementing blogs, and The Twitter actually helped me transition from frantic tweeter to occasional blogger. I was too worked up to start a blog until good ole Aunt Becky pointed out that tweeting was microblogging, and as such, I was already blogging so there was nothing to be scared of!

13) If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Oh god. I guess “don’t be a fuck up” would pretty much cover it. Or “Fucking up doesn’t necessarily mean the world is over and it is certainly no reason to stop trying.” Yeah, the last one.

14) If you could’ve told yourself this time last year one thing, what would it be?

STAY ON YO’ MEDS.

15) If you could have one Super Power, what would it be?

The power to fly (cuz everyone deserves the chance to fly!).

16) If you could do one thing you can’t currently do, and do it well, what would it be?

Run. I’m a terrible runner and I’m honestly afraid of it for some reason. I feel like I’m too big to run properly, and I’ll hurt myself or something. I wish I could run every day. I guess that’s not a good answer because I have the ability to run, just not well. Okay, instead of running I pick singing. Oh, or finishing school! Yeah, that’s what I wish I could do well. Get a goddam degree.

17) What surprises you about yourself?

My age and overall lack of achievement. The latter is astonishing and I don’t like to give it too much thought (maybe that’s my problem).

18) What was your favorite blog post/tweet of the past year?

I was going to go through my “favorited” tweets of the year, but I can’t find them anywhere, wtf Twitter? So my favorite blog post was this: Adventures in Depression by Allie at Hyperbole and a Half. I know other people get depressed, but when I read this I was like, “SOMEBODY REALLY GETS IT AND CAN ARTICULATE AND ILLUSTRATE IT!” Or something like that.

19) Do you REALLY think “Purple Should Be A Flavor?”

Yeah, because it would probably be better than the nasty grape Slurpee I got during the heat wave on Friday. I know it would have tasted better if it was purple flavor.

20) If you could make one outlandish wish for 2012, what would it be?

I’d like to become one of the Dance Moms, so I, too, could get berated by Miss Abby Lee Miller.

My first Meme is complete! Now for some lunch.

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Wtf Wednesday

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This? Happened.

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Fantasy Wish List

It’s been years since I made a list for Santa Claus, or anyone, for that matter, so I thought it would be fun and indulgent to make myself a fantasy Christmas wish list. I am not doing this to drop hints to anyone or ANYTHING like that; I’m simply having a little fun, so please overlook how greedy I am about to seem (it’s an extensive and expensive list).

1. MacBook Air – I would be overjoyed to receive anything from the Apple store (*ahem* *iPad*), but if I could choose one thing to get from there, I’d get a shiny new MacBook Air. I love my chunky white MacBook not-air, but it is so heavy, needs more memory, and I don’t do so good with white things. Plus the delete key has been hanging on by a thread for over a year, and I know I could get it fixed, but I’m too embarrassed by my hand marks under the keyboard to bring it in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Isn’t it pretty?

2. Insular Jacket:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This jacket is phenomenal. It is designed to mimic down, and I think it looks hot. From the website: “this alpine jacket is insulated with a recycled polyester/COCONA blend that’s derived from coconut husks. This eco-friendly fabric technology combines activated carbon with recycled polyester to provide superior insulation that resists moisture, controls odors and provides a higher warmth-to-weight ratio than other synthetic insulation.” It is easy to love this jacket.

3. Purse and Wallet. I have a purse, and I have a wallet somewhere, but my purse is falling apart, and I don’t use my wallet so it’s always a disaster when I’m checking out at stores. I can never find anything. I am not picky as to the style of these items, I would just want them to be cruelty-free and cute! I really love the stuff Pansy Maiden makes and sells, I have one of their bags but it’s small and kind of dressy. I’d like a big, versatile purse, perhaps something like this:

 

4. A dresser. I don’t have a dresser, and I would really love one. I needn’t be fancy, any random IKEA one would work, but if I could pick anything, I’d love something like this:

 

(This is comical, with this pic being so tiny and the one above being gigantic. Yep, I’m THAT handy with computers, I can change the sizes of pictures and stuff.)

5. A yearlong (or lifetime, this is my fantasy after all) subscription to a movie-rental-by-mail service, and satellite radio. Because radio nerd like me NEEDS access to eleventy hundred talk radio stations at any given time. Duh.

6. A male blue point Siamese kitten.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Because, how could you NOT want that cuteness in your life (unless you’re horribly allergic)? I feel kind of guilty that when it comes to cats, I want a specific breed, because I know there are thousands of perfectly lovely and lovable cats who desperately need homes out there, but I am what you might call OBSESSED with this breed. If you’ve been anywhere near me in the last week or so, you’ve probably heard me talk about Pharaoh, who is currently en route from Australia to his new American home. Pharaoh was my buddy when I was on Oz, and I am so excited that I get to see him again! Yes, I have bought the cat Christmas presents. So, if I were to get a cat, I’d want a Pharaoh. That’s why I want a specific breed, and I’d want to it to be a kitten so that it could grow up loving Scout.

7. An all-expense paid trip to Croatia!

I figured a trans-Atlantic trip would balance out my trans-Pacific vacation this earlier year. I’d settle for anywhere in Europe, but this is my fantasy list, so I pick Croatia.

 

 

 

8. Enrollment in the Second City’s Comedy Writing Class. I missed the early enrollment deadline again, but it’s not like a had a spare $300 lying around anyway. I know I said I was going to take the class in January, but the reality is, I can’t afford it. So I’d like Santa to go ahead and sign me up!

9. Broadway in Chicago season tickets. Nuff said.

10. My very own deluxe ice machine!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Yes, I want a hotel ice machine. Or it’s younger sibling, which looks cute and would probably work for a single-ice-consumer-home like mine. Either way, I want an ice machine SO BAD. Right now I buy ice by the bag, and sad is the day that I run out and am too lazy or scared of crossfire to go to J. J. Peppers for another bag (it happens every week or so, and I usually just go thirsty for the night. Regular water just isn’t the same!). If I had one of these babies though, I’d never run out! It has been a lifelong dream to own a freestanding ice machine. I have faith that one day, it will happen, and then I will know I have “made it.”

So there you have it! My insanely greedy and ridiculous wish list. What’s on your list?

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redrum

I had a nice, relaxing weekend. I spent Friday afternoon and evening at a pal’s house playing Monopoly (I would have lost horribly if we girls weren’t so nice, when I was out of money they’d cut me deals and the like so we could keep the game going), which could have gone on forever the way we were playing. We somehow got on a Ouija board kick, and wanted to use one as soon as possible, so we headed out to, where else, the burbs!, to look for said Ouija board.

We did not find one, there does not seem to be a single one for sale in the whole city, what’s up with that?! So the next night we made one. It took some trial and error (especially with the planchette), but our final product was magnificent (and MacGyver-y to the max–we used an old Donald Trump board game, a shot glass, plastic freezer bags, sharpies and pens, painters tape, and felt stickers) and best of all it worked! I swear. I will have to elaborate on that some day, but it most definitely worked.

After a fun night of Ouija-ing, my arms and back and eyelids were tired, so I headed home around 2:00 am. I always hate getting in so late because my garage is detached from our yard, so I have to park it then get out and walk, I don’t know, 20ish feet to the door, which shouldn’t be a big deal but with the stuff we’ve seen going on back there, let’s just say I have reason to be wary. Anyway, I’m approaching my street and I see blue police lights flashing ahead at what looks like my street. As I get closer, I see the cop car move toward me and stop at the next street, blocking access onto or off that street. I cautiously drive by and see a cluster of cops standing around chatting, and note that there are lights at the other end of the street. Sadly, this isn’t a strange occurrence in my neighborhood, so I didn’t think much of it.

When I got home, I noticed that I could still see blue lights flashing, and stepped onto our back deck to see if I could scope anything out. I could see cops walking around with flashlights, but that was about it, even with binoculars. I noticed that there weren’t any red lights (ambulance or fire trucks), so I was confused as to what was going on. From my look-out point I saw T arrive home, so I went to ask him what he had seen. Apparently the main street was blocked off, but we still had no idea what was going on. The lights continued to flash until I went to bed, well after 3:00 am.

The next morning I was saddened, but not altogether shocked, to learn that a violent murder had taken place there, a drive-by shooting, just moments before I trundled merrily by. Had I not been sucked into a repeat viewing of Tyra’s artistic video interpretation of her hit book Modelland, I probably would have encountered the silver Subaru containing the shooter(s), and who knows what those gun-happy thug kids would have done. It sickens me. And I need to move.

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Strange As It Seems

I have a new favorite musical!

It was actually my first favorite musical until I had the misfortune of seeing an awful  production of it 11 years ago; after that I still loved the music but thought I hated the musical. Oh, how wrong I was!

Back in September, something possessed me to see if there were any local productions of Joseph going down in the near future, and I was happy to find that the Paramount Theatre in Aurora was putting it on throughout November. My sister loves Joseph too, so I planned to see it when she was going to be in town with my sister-in-law (who doesn’t particularly love musicals but is such a good sport). Tickets were $50 so I had faith that it would be a good show, even if it wasn’t a big brand name nationally touring production, even though I was still a little wary of the quality, because the one I saw in Chicagoland 11 years ago was just awful. I’ve been called a snob when it comes to theatrical productions, but I’m not! I just don’t like to see crap, I mean, who does? And if I see crap I’m not going to pretend like it was good. Just BE good, and I won’t have to be all snobby about it.

Anyway, I was slightly nervous, but my worries were unfounded. A friend of mine once told me that Chicago has the best actors in the country because if you live here and you are acting, you are doing it because you love it, not because of the money. This was exemplified in Joseph, the cast was AMAZEBALLS. All of them were simply. stunning.

The night before the show us gals had a wild time in the city, and some of us (me) stayed up until 7:00 am. Since the show was in Aurora, we had quite the hike to get out there (I think it took about two hours, one of which was just in Chicago, UGH), and then we did some quick outlet mall shopping. We didn’t have as much time there as I was hoping we would, but my main focus was Joseph and not being late for it and not missing “Prologue.” (That “Prologue” has NOTHING on the one we saw)

So, of course, we were running late. The show starts at 4:00 and we roll up at 4:02, and the car isn’t even parked. As you can probably infer from my lack of sleep the night before and my intense desire to not be late/miss anything, I was in a pretty foul mood when I stormed through the theatre doors. This is where some awesome teamwork unfolded. Jac (ever the good sport) graciously parked my car for me, and Todd went with her. Laurie patiently waited in the lobby with their tickets, and Sara and I went in. Sara hadn’t been with us at the outlet malls, but also had been having a tough day. Even though Sara and I were safely seated with moments to spare, my bitch face remained firmly pasted to my face, and I was so worked up that my shoulders were up to my ears. Even during the first few minutes of the overture, I wasn’t feeling any happier. But then I heard the familiar sounds of “Close Every Door” and I felt my bitch face melting away the tiniest bit. My shoulders were relaxing. I turned to Sara and said, “I feel better.”

With each passing minute of the show I felt better and better. My mood did such a sudden shift that it brought tears to my eyes during the first few numbers. I cannot say enough about how phenomenal this cast was. The leads, obviously, were incredible, but every single person in it had a huge role in making it what it was (which was perfection). The proud, adorable children melted  my heart. The brothers were hilarious and some of them were quite handsome, and I liked how they wore what appeared to be their own pants, I was definitely able to sort out who was gay and who was a nerdy straight (ahem cargo pants). The girls–the girls! I didn’t even know there was a chorus of beautiful women in this, because in the stupid one I first saw, there were like three girls in it. There were at least ten in this, and they were all so good. That’s really all I can say, it was just so frickin’ good. And hilarious! I had no idea it was so funny. Once the bitch face entirely melted and I stopped crying, I couldn’t stop laughing!

This production was so good, in fact, that Sara and I went again this past Sunday, their final day. It was well worth the suburban trek, even though our poor, poor Joe seemed a bit nervous during the first few songs, he was as cute as anything and still did fine as far as I was concerned, but I could sense he was a little off. I chalked it up to nerves/emotions, what with it being the final day, but whatever it was he shook it off around the time he shook his shirt off in “Close Every Door.” MMHMM is all I’m going to say about Joseph with his shirt off. MMHMM. And everyone hates on Narrator’s sparkly tunics, but I loved each and every one.

So, sorry, “Wicked,” you’re out of my number one spot. I still love you and will see you every chance I get, but I certainly won’t go out of my way, and if there was a choice between seeing you and Joseph, well, let’s just say it’s “Joseph All The Time.” And for the record, I very much prefer the book that inspired you.

I know this post is all over the place but I’ve been itching to post something, and I’ve seen much, much worse, so I’m just gonna do it. Here I am seeing my favorite musical:

 

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