Enough with the clichés already in A Bronx Tale

Nov 29

Enough with the clichés already in <i>A Bronx Tale</i>

If it feels like we've seen it all before, well, we have. The gangsters, the tormented teens, the tough streets of New York's deeze, dem, dose borough – it's all the same old stuff in the musical version of A Bronx Tale now at the Golden Gate Theatre as part of the SHNChazz Palminteri's autobiographical one-man show or the movie version that served as the feature directing debut of Robert De Niro or the upgraded one-man show that Paminteri took to Broadway and then around the country.

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Slice of life served up sweet and tuneful in Waitress

Oct 18

Slice of life served up sweet and tuneful in <i>Waitress</i>

Waitress is very much like one of the wacky pies its title character concocts – an odd combination of ingredients that come together in a surprisingly delightful way. As a musical, it's about ordinary life – low-paying jobs, abusive relationships, childhood trauma, the families we make as opposed to the ones we're born into – but it sings, often beautifully, about the deep pain and the little joys of everyday living, and it finds ways to make the ordinary soar with lyricism and expressive movement.

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Rhythm almost gets you in On Your Feet

Sep 13

Rhythm almost gets you in <i>On Your Feet</i>

On Your Feet! The Emilio & Gloria Estefan Broadway Musical is exactly what you think it's going to be, and that's not a bad thing. Nor is it a great thing, but this amiable show lands squarely in the middle lane of enjoyable live musical entertainment. Is it a musical? Well, it's a jukebox musical, meaning it mixes pop songs into a narrative, and some of it lands very well and some of it not so much.

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Kids rock in Lloyd Webber’s middling School

Jun 28

Kids rock in Lloyd Webber’s middling <i>School</i>

p>What's the primary reason to see Andrew Lloyd Webber's School of Rock? It's elementary: the kids.

This grand-scale musical adaptation of the 2003 movie hit (screenplay by Mike White, direction by Richard Linklater) makes a lot of sense as far as movie-to-musical projects go because music – and a lot of it – is built right into the story of a baby-man who fakes being a substitute teacher at a private school and turns around the lives of his students by helping them form a rock band.

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Funny and chilling, it’s Humans’ nature

Jun 07

Funny and chilling, it’s <i>Humans’</i> nature

There's something so comforting and so terrifying about family. That dichotomy is captured perfectly in Stephen Karam's The Humans, the Tony Award-winning drama that is now touring the country. The superb production is at the Orpheum Theatre as part of the SHN season.

It's a rare enough occurrence these days for a play to go on tour, but to have one this entertaining and unsettling is even more reason for celebration (side note: there are almost four times as many producers listed as actors). Karam's play does something extraordinary by trying to be ultra-ordinary.

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Purple reigns at SHN’s Orpheum

May 03

<i>Purple</i> reigns at SHN’s Orpheum

When I originally reviewed the musical version of The Color Purple based on Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel and the Steven Spielberg's 1985 movie version, I felt the production was too Broadway slick and the score was too bland. The only thing that worked – and indeed the thing that saved that October 2007 touring production – was Walker's story and her powerful characters. (Read the review here.)

That was only 11 years ago, but The Color Purple is back.

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