Friday, June 26, 2009

Two Fitting Tributes

I'm honestly not sure how to feel about Michael Jackson's death. It really has no profound impact on me. I was never a huge Michael Jackson fan. The memory I most associate with him is being terrified of Captain EO at Disneyland as a child. But I did enjoy many of his songs. My mom had this cassette she made of songs she liked from the radio that we used to listen to in the car and "Billy Jean" was on there, as well as "Say Say Say." And there is no denying the impact he had on the music industry. When I heard the news of his death last night, shortly before leaving work, I was mostly shocked and also sad thinking about that talented young man from the Jackson 5 and the strange directions his life took. I already had tickets to see The Wiz at City Centers and it seemed the most appropriate place to make sense of it all (Michael Jackson starred in the film version).

An announcement was made before the show that the performance would be dedicated to Jackson, and what a joyous dedication it was. The show was so much better than I expected, having critic-o-metered the reviews. One complaint by the critics was that the book by William F. Brown doesn't hold up with its '70s jokes, but the cast sold every line and nothing fell flat. And yes, Ashanti isn't a great actress, but she can sing, which is all that's really necessary in the role. Dorothy is the blandest character in the show anyway. From David Korins' sets (especially the platform holding the orchestra made to look ravaged by a tornado) to Andy Blankenbuehler's inventive choreography which includes dancers as the tornado to the overall superb cast, the show was a good time from start to finish. The celebratory attitude towards music, even if it obviously wasn't written by Jackson, seemed to me the perfect tribute.

This morning, only a few hours later, I trekked to Central Park to catch the cast of Hair perform for Good Morning America. Sasha Allen and Gavin Creel, backed by the rest of the cast, sang this rendition of "I'll Be There." During that song only, it started to pour down rain, which made for an oddly beautiful moment.


carli said...

i agree-the show was such a nice surprise.
i feared for some of those people in the orchestra, though. that tornado setup looked very unstable.

Kathleen said...

My sources tell me that Steve Martin and Martin Short were in the audience at City Center last night as well... you keep good company!

Linda said...

Alas, I was in the mid-mezzanine, far away from the people who matter.

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