Tuesday, July 22, 2008

How Far Would You Go For A Guest Spot in a Musical Video?

As much as I hate High School Musical, I was curious about the new ABC show High School Musical: Get in the Picture, a reality show in the style of American Idol. Young adults show off their vocal talents or lack thereof in the first audition to make it to the semi-finals. In the first five minutes, many hopefuls speak about how this is the most important audition of their lives, how they want this so bad. The coaches talk about how they will change someone's life. What do they win? A chance to sing in the new High School Musical film? A chance to star in the rumored High School Musical 4? No, they win a guest spot in a music video. As far as I can tell, the winner will not sing at all. So why all the drama? Maybe they just wanted to meet Zac Efron.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Week in Review

Monday: Ricky Gervais at the WaMu Theatre at Madison Square Garden: Hilarious, of course. His stand-up comedy performance is a little bit The Office's David Brent, in that he is politically incorrect, a little bit Extras' Andy Millman, in that he makes it seem as if he doesn't mean to be, the words are just coming out wrong. I was disappointed that there were no special guests (apparently last time David Bowie introduced Gervais). Maybe if he didn't spend the money on the big bright letters that spelled out RICKY. The show felt a little short for how much it cost, but still worth it.

Tuesday: Some Americans Abroad at the Second Stage Theatre, directed by Gordon Edelstein: The plot summary on the website mislead me into expecting a comedy about partying college students, but it was actually about the professors and the innerworkings of the English department and it wasn't that much of a comedy. I liked the play itself and some of the performances, but I wasn't a fan of the production. There wasn't so much a set as tables and chairs that would be moved to the back of the room after each scene, resulting in a cluttered mess at the end. I was very impressed with Tom Cavenaugh, who came into the production at the last minute, and gave a very compelling performance. I find Second Stage to be very hit or miss. See below for a hit.

Wednesday: Jay Brannan at the Highline Ballroom: Loved it. I'm reviewing this for 52shows.com.

Thursday: Animals Out of Paper at the Second Stage Uptown, directed by Giovanna Sardelli: I wasn't a huge fan of the only other show I've seen at Second Stage Uptown, Len Asleep in Vynl, so I didn't have high hopes for this one. But, wow, this was the highlight of my week that included seeing my favorite comedian and an amazing concert. The play was both hilarious and moving and the characters were well-developed and likeable, despite their many faults. Kellie Overbey plays Ilana, an origami artist who just went through a divorce and lost her dog. A teacher named Andy, played by the hilarious and heartbreaking Jeremy Shamos, visits her unexpectedly and asks her to mentor his genius student, Suresh, played by Utkarsh Ambudkar, who brilliantly captured every nuance of his character.

Saturday: Mamma Mia! (the movie), directed by Phyllida Lloyd: Full disclosure: I really enjoy the stage musical. It may be cheesy, but it's a lot of fun, and never tries to be more than what it is, which is why I think it's the jukebox musical that succeeds most at being a jukebox musical. The movie was also fun and not as much of a disappointment as I thought it would be. Only a few songs were cut and only a few scenes changed. It works better on stage, in a movie it just looks too cheesy, but I was impressed that most of the actors pulled off their roles. I've never liked Meryl Streep (sorry A.O. Scott). I found that she overacts, but I didn't hate her in this. I found Amanda Seyfried and Dominic Cooper to be charming.