Friday, October 24, 2008

High School Musical Too

Nickelodeon is releasing its own teen musical movie, Spectacular!, to be released sometime in 2009. It sounds a lot like Disney's High School Musical, except instead of a basketball player who reluctantly joins the musical, it's about a rock star who reluctantly joins the show choir. It doesn't look very good, but I'm kind of hoping it does well, if only so I don't have to hear about those HSM kids anymore.

Monday, October 06, 2008

13 Creators Could Have Done a Little More Homework

Saturday night at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre was filled with teens, tweens, and even very young children with their families. It was the final preview of 13, a new Broadway musical by composer Jason Robert Brown. It's no wonder families would want to take their children, the show stars an all-teen cast, but those expecting High School Musical might be in for a surprise. The adult humor may go over some heads.

In 13, Evan Goldman (played on Saturday night by Corey J. Snide, but usually by Graham Phillips), has to move from New York City to Appleton, Indiana after his parents' divorce, and right after his bar mitzvah. He wants to have the best party, which means all the cool kids have to be there, but he might have to hurt his new neighbor Patrice (Allie Trimm) in order to make that happen.

Evan's struggle to fit in is realistic, as are many of the actions of the characters, but the dialogue in the book by Dan Elish and Robert Horn often doesn't ring true. I am not naive enough to think that girls of this age don't call each other sluts, but I don't think 13-year-olds would make as many jokes about inbreeding, terminal illnesses, and Judaism.

The show is 90 minutes long with no intermission, apparently cut down from two acts. Although I'm a fan of the tight one-act, in this case, the show may have benefitted from a little more time for the characters to develop. Archie (Aaron Simon Gross), the boy with the never fully explained terminal illness, is very clever, but we never get to see the pain that he must be going through.

The score is as hit-and-miss as the rest of the show. The standout song is "Bad Bad News," sung by Al Calderon, Malik Hammond, Joey La Varco, and easily the most talented in the cast with sadly one of the smallest roles, Eamon Foley.

Christopher Gattelli's choreography is energetic and fitting, but again, there isn't enough of it, which is a shame because dancing is clearly the strong suit for most of the cast. That might explain the tacked on number "Brand New You" after the curtain call, which serves no purpose other than to showcase the dancing skills of the cast and the excellent all-teen band.

It's easier to write about a show when it's truly awful or amazing, but this show was a little of both, and ultimately forgettable.