Tag Archives: theater

Cats At Playhouse Square (Partial) Review

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Cats At Playhouse Square (Partial) Review

Hello! Every year, my dad gifts the family with season tickets to Playhouse Square and we divide the shows up accordingly. This month, Cats was playing at the Connor Palace and I had a difficult time finding anyone to go with me due to massive lack of interest lol. Thankfully, my brother, Andrew, stepped in in the clutch as long as we left at intermission. This was fine by me because I was just happy to go period!

I wasn’t expecting to like Cats as much as I did, especially considering how much I made fun of it prior to. However, I thought it was spectacular and am going to buy nosebleed tickets so I can see it in its entirety this weekend. The songs, production, dancing, and orchestra accompanying the cast were so amazing and I have spent my time since Saturday night being disappointed at not seeing the whole thing. Take a look at some pics and let’s discuss:

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Cats begs the question of what was Andrew Lloyd Webber smoking when he made it and where can I get some lol. The whole point of the show, as I understand it, is that a group of alley cats are preparing for the Jellicle Ball. During this one special night of the year, the wise Old Deuteronomy will choose one cat to make use of one of their nine lives and come back as something different. So, the musical is basically each cat introducing themselves in a song about what makes them unique.

As I said, it was not in my plans to freaking LOVE this show but I was hooked from the jump. At the beginning of the show, the stage was completely dark. Then, small green eyes began popping up throughout the stage as the cats began to prepare for their opening number of Jellicle Songs for Jellicle Cats. And, can we please talk about what a bop that song is?! It is so catchy and fun and trust and believe that I have had it stuck in my head ever since.

The first few numbers of Cats were dedicated to explaining the show and then it was time for each cat to begin their introductory songs. In Act I, these songs were for the Old Gumbie Cat (Michelle E. Carter), Rum Tum Tugger (Hank Santos), Bustopher Jones (John Anker Bow) , Mungojerrie (Brian Craig Nelson) and Rumpleteazer (Taryn Smithson), and Old Deuteronomy (Cameron Schutza). Andrew was a fan of the portly Cat About Town, Bustopher Jones. We also both really enjoyed the Old Gumbie Cat, a prim and proper lady who could tap dance like nobody’s business. I love a good tap dancing number and this one was incredible. Her rhinestone tap shoes were also everything!

My personal favorite of what I saw was Rum Tum Tugger, a rock n’ roll bad boy of a cat who had an Elvis inspired number. His song has also been playing on a loop in my head and I’m looking forward to seeing it again! My favorite part of his song was when some cats brought out and assembled pieces of broken mirror and Rum Tum was dancing in front of it. Cat burglars, Mungojerrie and Rumpleteazer, also had a great song and offered mind blowing acrobatics including tandem cartwheels. It was hard to tell where Mungojerrie ended and Rumpleteazer began lol.

Not only was the music and feline like dancing sublime but the set and lighting were also formidable displays of theater production. The alley setting was filled with tunnels and nooks that the cats could pop in and out of and it was so neat to literally blink and see a cat go from one end of the stage to the other. The lighting also helped set the mood for the special night of the Jellicle Ball with a sky of stars and a huge full moon.

As thankful as I am that I got to see half of Cats at the gorgeous Connor Palace, it just wasn’t enough! I want the whole enchilada and am keeping my fingers crossed that Johnny will accompany me in the nosebleeds this weekend. If you have the opportunity to see this show and can relate to my initial ambivalence, trust me when I say that you are going to have a blast. Cats might not be your cup of tea but it is going to be impossible to not appreciate it for what it is – a fantastic production!

Have you seen Cats before? What did you think of it? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Les Miserables At Playhouse Square (Partial) Review

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Les Miserables At Playhouse Square (Partial) Review

Hello! This past Saturday, Johnny and I went on a date night to The Haunted House Restaurant and Playhouse Square. Les Miserables was being performed at the KeyBank State Theater and Johnny and I decided to go since my parents couldn’t. Were we both chomping at the bit to see Les Mis? Not really. I love the theater more than the average bear and I have never had any desire to see it, despite its popularity. And, of course, Johnny didn’t care either way lol.

Because we were feeling wishy washy about attending in general, I told Johnny that we would make it to the intermission and leave. We were both tired after a long week and were also not trying to get stuck in traffic on the way home because the Cleveland Guardians was playing that night. Satisfied with this plan, we headed to Playhouse Square after a great meal. However, we ended up leaving after hearing “Castle On A Cloud” performed because it is my fave. Check out some pics and let’s discuss:

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EUGENE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Let me preface our chit chat with the following: I freaking LOVE going to Playhouse Square and there is nothing better to me than a night at the theater. I have been to many a show there and have always had a blast, even with productions I wasn’t overly excited about because I can still admire the production value. For the life of me, though, I just could not get into Les Mis!

Johnny and I both had absolutely no idea of what Les Mis was about and we still don’t have the foggiest. BUT, when the show began we were both really feeling it. The beginning was set on a boat and it felt like you were rocking away on the stormy seas with the cast. Then… everyone started singing lol.

At first, I thought it was just a fluke but I couldn’t understand a word of what anyone was saying. In fact, I found myself wishing that the show had subtitles! I recalled to myself when I saw Frozen at the KeyBank State Theater in August and while I had some problems hearing/understanding the actors, it was nowhere near as bad as Les Mis. It almost made things worse that I have a bit of familiarity with the music of the show and still couldn’t understand NOTHIN.

As we sat through song after song (Because, let’s be real, the whole play is just one long song!), things were not getting any better. Yes, the set was spectacular and it always is at a Playhouse Square show but was it good enough to sit through the whole show in confusion? No, lol. Johnny and I had a loose understanding of what was going on from the phrases that we could make out but that was about it.

After close to an hour of attempting to give the show a chance to get better, we decided to call it a loss and head home – especially since we had an hour drive back. Honestly, on any other occasion, I would never consider leaving a play early. I was enjoying myself a little but Johnny most definitely wasn’t and we were exhausted – so much so that we were both yawning in our seats. The intermission was also a ways away and I was worried one of us was going to fall asleep! Sometimes, it’s best to just leave and this was one of those times.

I am a bit sad that Les Mis wasn’t this groundbreaking theatrical experience for myself and Johnny. But, we gave it a shot and no one can say that we didn’t try. Had we been able to understand even a little more of what was being sang, this post probably would have been totally different!

What are your thoughts on Les Mis? Have you ever left a movie or production early? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Frozen At Playhouse Square Review

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Frozen At Playhouse Square Review

Hello! This past weekend, I went to Playhouse Square with my dad, brother, and Val Gal to see a matinee showing of Frozen at the KeyBank State Theatre. I have never seen the movie the whole way through but it’s my niece’s favorite and Playhouse Square always puts on amazing shows so I was excited! There were things about Frozen that blew me away and other parts that were… not so much.

Regardless, it was SO special to accompany Val to her first ever live theater performance, which she loved. In fact, she asked if we could go again tomorrow! She was also dressed up in her Elsa costume and it was adorable seeing all of the little Anna and Elsas walking around. 🙂 Now, let’s get to this review starting with the good:

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Although a majority of the acting and singing in Frozen was great, the best thing about the show was, easily, all of the wonderful special effects. The lighting, set design, and flying pieces was true theater magic. This production used techniques that I had never seen before and, honestly, didn’t even think were possible. I had no idea how they were going to create the eternal winter landscape that Elsa created but it really did look like the entire stage was encompassed in snow and ice.

A huge credit should be given to the production team because this show would not have been nearly as good without everything that was accomplished by them. The set was so elaborate and visually beautiful and the lighting and soundscape enhanced everything tenfold. Now that I think of it, the only things that “wowed” me were all production related.

While some of the actors kind of missed the mark for me, there were a few performances that really stood out. F. Michael Haynie who played Olaf was spectacular and a formidable puppeteer too. I didn’t know how they were going to create the talking snowman and a to scale version puppet was cleverly used. It worked perfectly and Haynie played the part so well.

Evan Strand played Sven, Kristoff’s reindeer, and this was also another head scratcher for me. It’s not like they could have used a real reindeer for the show and most animal portrayals by actors can be kind of lame. However, the costume that was used for Sven was one of the best that I have ever seen and I almost thought that it was an actual reindeer at first! His physicality was spot on and I was very impressed – I think he outshined Kristoff completely.

Caroline Bowman as Elsa was pretty good, although I felt like she was a bit boring. Her time on stage was kind of lackluster and what shined during “Let It Go” wasn’t her but the incredible production behind it. Lauren Nicole Chapman as Anna also left A LOT to be desired. She was SO. Freaking. Annoying. Her voice was also very shrill. Granted, I haven’t seen bits and pieces of the movie in a while but I definitely don’t remember Anna being like that – maybe I’m wrong!

Because there aren’t too many original songs in the movie Frozen, a majority of the numbers had to be created for the stage. I liked a fair amount of them and enjoyed “Let It Go”, “In Summer”, “Fixer Upper”, and “Monster” the most. I will say that there were times when it was difficult to hear/understand the actors so that took away from some numbers that I could have potentially enjoyed.

Some of the songs really dragged the show on for longer than I thought was necessary, though. For example “Hygge” sung by Oaken and company was kind of a hot mess. I get that productions more geared towards children have to throw some things in for the adults BUT it felt inappropriate for the kids in the audience. It was, hands down, the cringiest part of the performance.

There were times when Frozen was hit or miss and that’s fine because the biggest success of the show was how much fun Val had. I am thrilled to have been able to share in my love of live theater with her and can’t wait to do something like this again!

What is your favorite musical? Have you seen any good shows lately? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Mother’s Day Date/Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird Review

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Mother’s Day Date/Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird Review

Hello! This past Saturday, I took my darling mom, JANE, out for a night on the town to celebrate Mother’s Day. We enjoyed a delicious meal at my favorite restaurant, Pepper’s, and then we saw Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird at Playhouse Square. Our dinner was divine, the play was spectacular, but the company was even better!

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^^^ How cute is she?!

Pepper’s is an amazing Italian restaurant that’s about fifteen minutes away from Playhouse Square. We wined and dined with a glass of Reisling for mom and Prosecco for me and ate like the queens we are. I opted for my favorite of gnocchi but instead of my usual of Alfredo sauce, I decided to live a little and try the pesto. JANE went for the Penne with the house sauce and we savored every single bite. The salad, bread, pasta, and drinks were made to perfection and we pretty much talked about it until we got to the theater!!

After our dinner, which we are still daydreaming about, we made the short drive to Playhouse Square to park, grab a drink, and take our seats. And, of course, lots of pictures were called for:

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Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird is, easily, one of the most important pieces of literature, film, and theater that there is. If you are unfamiliar with the plot, it is set in 1934 Maycomb, Alabama and tells the tale of Atticus Finch defending an innocent black man named Tom Robinson for the rape of a white teenager. It is just as relevant today as it was when the book was first published and it is truly a masterpiece.

My mom and I treasure this work of art so deeply and have been looking forward to seeing this play for months with our Playhouse Square season tickets. Atticus was played by the incomparable Richard Thomas and he was sublime. Mary Badham who played Scout in the film also was featured in a small role as Mrs. Henry Dubose. To be able to see this play performed with such seasoned actors was a gift.

We were so incredibly impressed by Richard Thomas and his portrayal of Atticus Finch was masterful. My mom and I also enjoyed the actors who played Jem Finch and Dill Harris. While Thomas was, obviously, the star of the show, I daresay that the supporting cast shined even brighter.

Jacqueline Williams as Calpurnia was simply gorgeous and Yaegel T. Welch’s heart wrenching portrayal of Tom Robinson, a man automatically guilty because of the color of his skin was STUNNING. And, we can’t forget Anthony Natale who played Link Deas. Natale is hearing impaired and he signed a majority of his lines while Scout or Jem translated, which was very cool to see.

Now, you might be surprised that I didn’t give a shout out to Melanie Moore, the actress who played Scout. She was, however, our only qualm with the show. In the book and film, Scout is a young girl. Melanie is a grown woman and, to be honest, she was quite annoying. I am not saying this to be mean, but the voice she used to sound childlike sounded exactly like Forrest Gump and it was kind of distracting. I understand that it had to be an adult actress who played Scout but there had to have been a better way to portray her and this was not it.

Seeing the play of To Kill A Mockingbird moved my mom and I so very much. There were parts that were physically painful to watch and our hearts ached as we left the theater. I wouldn’t have traded this experience for the world, though. The pain that we felt both physical and emotional is nothing in comparison to those who deal with injustice on a daily basis and I believe that Harper Lee’s work is a necessity in this world.

The play lasted roughly three hours and there were times when it felt slow moving but each scene was so crucial and there for a reason. By the time the show was over and we had time to digest it and decompress as we got onto the highway, we were ready to begin singing its praises. Just like the book and film, there were moments in that play that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

I was moved to tears during several parts in the play. One of the most powerful scenes that I keep coming back to is when Tom Robinson was on the stand and being questioned by the prosecutor. He kept referring to Tom as “boy” while Atticus is screaming to call him by his name. It was chilling and I kid you not that my eyes have tears in them right now just writing about it. It was haunting and I can’t tell you how much Yaegel T. Welch’s performance as Tom meant to me.

I could go on for hours telling all of you about the experience of seeing Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird in play form. Rather, I will end it on: SPRINT, don’t run to see this show if you have the opportunity. I am so thankful to have been able to see it on a wonderful Mother’s Day date with my mom and it is something that I will never forget.

Have you seen any plays recently? What does To Kill A Mockingbird mean to you? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Types Of Shows In New York City

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Types Of Shows In New York City

If you’re in New York and hoping to see a show, the choices are always numerous and diverse. Rather than purchase tickets for something you might be disappointed in, consider the different genres available. This will allow you to narrow down the options and spend a wonderful evening watching something that will suit your tastes and mood:

Musicals:

Broadway musicals have more depth than ever before. Featuring memorable music, choreography, costumes, and acting, the subject matter runs the gamut from hilarious comedy to stirring dramas. Consult NYC theater reviews to check out which ones audiences and critics are raving about and why. In addition to currently popular titles, you can also choose from revivals of classic shows and newer and sometimes less-well-known productions in off-off-Broadway venues.

Plays:

Although they don’t have the show-stopping numbers of their musical counterparts, Broadway plays are every bit as captivating and memorable. From comedies and tragedies to biographical and historical works, you’re bound to find something of interest. If you’re still having trouble deciding, consult a list of Tony Award nominees and winners that are currently in theaters to uncover the critics favorites for writing, acting, and direction.

Interactive:

If you’re in the mood to be a part of the action rather than just observing it, consider a more immersive event. Interactive productions are typically experiences that enable the audience to participate as actual characters in the play, answer the actors questions throughout the show, or even solve a scripted mystery. Ranging from elaborate narratives to stripped-down one-man solo acts, this often experimental theater is presented in venues ranging from smaller stages or warehouses to parks or even moving trains.

Whether you’re in the mood to laugh, cry, think, or tap your toes, the New York City theater scene has something for you. A little research before purchasing your tickets will go a long way to ensuring you have a great time.

Dear Evan Hansen Review

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Dear Evan Hansen Review

Howdy! This past weekend, I enjoyed an outing with an old theater friend, Sabrina, to see Dear Evan Hansen at Playhouse Square in Cleveland. Despite both of us not loving the musical, it was still a fun day filled with good food, drinks, and wonderful company. I was so happy when Sabrina invited me to see the show because our schedules never work well with each other so it was really nice to make up for lost time. As we are both theater nerds, we were able to have a great discussion about the show afterwards so here is what we thought as well as a brief synopsis (Without giving too much away!)

So, what you need to know about Dear Evan Hansen is the following: A troubled teen who is an outsider at school has homework from his therapist where he has to write letters to himself explaining why it’s going to be a great day. As Evan is printing his “homework” out in the library, an even more troubled teen named Conner snatches the letter and confiscates it after seeing his sister’s name in it. She just so happens to be the object of Evan’s affection but doesn’t know he exists.

A few days later, Conner commits suicide and the letter that Evan wrote is found in his pocket. A web of lies then begins because Conner’s parents obviously want to know who Evan is and he begins to spin a tale of how him and Conner were best friends. This quickly raises his popularity at school with the offset of The Conner Project and, suddenly, Evan exists because of his fake friendship with the kid who just died.

Okay, so the story line isn’t bad, but the writing and staging left a lot to be desired as well as lackluster performances from the cast as a whole. It was interesting to see the phenomenon of everyone instantly becoming “best friends” with someone who just passed. However, the main culprit of this was a girl named Alana and she was SO. FUCKING. ANNOYING. Omg, the scenes with her were just unbearable and I couldn’t stand it.

Another character who really didn’t do it for me was Evan’s mom. It was very tough to invoke sympathy for the mother of a struggling teen when she was so unlikable and all of her slow ballad songs felt lame and drawn out. Honestly, I didn’t feel any type of way about any of the characters because it just felt like they were there saying their lines and singing their songs and then the applause happened and it was on to the next scene. The play felt very disjointed and the flow was off.

A lot of this disconnect felt due to a poor choice in staging. It went from social media news feeds plastered all over moving walls and banners to a tiny room on a rotating circle in a matter of minutes. This felt very high school theater for a Broadway level show and didn’t create any visual interest on stage.

The quality of the script and songs just weren’t that good, either. A powerful message of looking out for the mental health of our teens was overshadowed by plot points that weren’t fully realized and writing that was subpar, at best. I understand that this show got a lot of hype but, frankly, I don’t understand why because I left the theater feeling very unsatisfied with the finale and the plot holes that never got filled.

I never say no to a night at the theater but, I think I could have passed on this one. I would rate Dear Evan Hansen with a five out of ten stars and I can’t say that I would recommend going to see it. If you’re into sappy teen musicals, though, I say go for it!

What were your thoughts on Dear Evan Hansen? What is your favorite musical? I want to hear from all of you, so leave me a comment and let’s chat! Much love. -Sarah

Featured Image By: TrustArts