Sunday, February 19, 2017

Newsies on the Big Screen

Yesterday I saw the musical Newsies on the big screen and it was simply amazing.  The touring company was joined by many of the original Broadway cast, including Kara Lindsay as Katherine, Andrew Keenan-Bolger as Crutchie, and Jeremy Jordan (squeal) as Jack Kelly, and the production was filmed live on stage at the Pantages Theatre in Los Angeles (where I saw it for the first time) for release in movie theaters.  I love this musical so much!  I love the story of how a group of "newsies," with the help of a fledgling reporter, defy Joseph Pulitzer's attempt to raise the price of newspapers with a city-wide strike.  I love all of the powerful songs, especially  "Carrying the Banner," "The World Will Know," "Seize the Day," "King of New York,"  and "Once and for All."  I love the dazzling choreography, particularly all of the high-energy leaps and spins in unison.  I absolutely loved this film version!  I loved being able to see the incredibly passionate performance of Jeremy Jordan, who is the best Jack Kelly I have seen.  I loved all of the different camera angles which made watching this film like having a front-row seat at the Pantages Theatre (for a lot less money!).  Just like the first time I saw it, I had goosebumps throughout the whole performance and I highly recommend that you seize the day and get a ticket to the final screening on February 22 (go here).

Note:  I loved seeing all of the groups of theatre nerds wearing their newsboy caps!  I also loved seeing every single seat filled!  Theatre nerds rock!

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mozart's Requiem

The very first Utah Symphony concert I attended, back in college, was a performance of Mozart's Requiem.  It is has been my very favorite piece of music ever since I heard it in the movie Amadeus and I always take every opportunity that I can to hear it performed live.  Last night I was able to hear the Utah Symphony perform it once again and it was magnificent!  I find the mythology surrounding the composition of this piece to be fascinating.  The fact that Mozart died before it was complete makes one wonder whether he knew he was dying and, therefore, writing the mass for himself.  It is almost as if Mozart was wrestling with Death itself as he wrote the music that lifts the soul up to God.  I find the music to be incredibly stirring and I especially love the "Confutatis" and the "Lacrymosa" (which I performed in college when I was in the choir.)  The orchestra was joined by the Utah Symphony Chorus and the University of Utah Chamber Choir as well as soloists Joelle Harvey, Sarah Coit, Benjamin Butterfield, and Derrick Parker and they performed this piece beautifully.  I closed my eyes many times during the performance and let the music carry me away.  I was completely overcome by the end of it!  After the intermission, the orchestra continued with Symphony No. 4 by Charles Ives and this piece was epic, to say the least.  When Ives composed this symphony, he was concerned with philosophical questions about existence and it reflects both chaos and beauty.  It was sometimes cacophonous with more performers (and instruments) on the stage than I have ever seen before playing complicated melodies with different rhythms (there were even two conductors) over top of each other.  However, underneath the turmoil was peace and I especially liked the third movement.  It was definitely a never-to-be-forgotten evening at Abravanel Hall last night and I highly recommend getting a ticket (go here) to tonight's performance of the same program.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at HCT

I have very fond memories of watching all of the old movie musicals, like Oklahoma, The Music Man, Fiddler on the Roof, and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, at my Grandma Anderson's house. My cousins and I would sing and dance and act them out in my Grandma's living room over and over again. I love these classic musicals and I always try to see them performed live whenever I have the chance.  I was able to see Seven Brides for Seven Brothers at Hale Theatre last night and it was so much fun! It is a wonderful production filled with great performances, rousing musical numbers, and energetic choreography.  Adam Pontipee (Dan Frederickson) leaves his frontier home in the mountains to find a wife in the nearest town. He finds the perfect candidate in Milly (Erin Royall Carlson) but she is dismayed when she discovers that she must also care for his six brothers.  Her solution is to get them all married off so she tries to teach them how to court women ("Goin' Courtin'" is such a fun number).  Adam fears that his brothers are becoming soft and suggests that they just go get the women they want to marry and chaos ensues! Both Frederickson and Carlson have lovely voices and I especially enjoyed their renditions of "Where Were You?" and "Love Never Goes Away."  All of the brothers, Benjamin (Brock Dalgleish), Caleb (Taylor Morris), Daniel (Christopher Gallacher), Ephraim (Patrick Wendel), Frank (Brian Nelson), and Gideon (Matthew Sanguine), are incredible dancers and I absolutely loved the church social scene, especially the dance-off between the brothers and the suitors.  I am always amazed by the big song and dance numbers that are performed on such a small and intimate stage.  I also really loved the brides, my favorite is Dorcas (Amelia Rose Moore), and I was impressed that each of them seemed like individuals with distinct personalities. All of their costumes are fabulous, particularly the skirts made from quilts. The rustic set is simple but effective and I liked all of the little details such as the gingham bunting at the church social. This is a production that will appeal to fans of the movie and I highly recommend it.  Many shows are sold out so act quickly (go here for tickets) because you don't want miss out on such a nostalgic show.

Note:  Yesterday I picked my nephew up from school and spent the afternoon with him.  He asked me what I was doing in the evening and, when I told what play I was seeing, he declared it to be lame.  Perhaps it might not appeal to twelve-year-old boys!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Sweethearts Dance 2017

Last year the preparations for the annual Sweethearts Dance were fraught with difficulties.  It took three meetings just to decide on a theme!  Every other decision, from decorations to refreshments to the DJ, was met with similar obstacles.  This year was the exact opposite!  At the very first planning meeting with the officers they knew exactly what they wanted (and showed me pictures on Pinterest of every detail).  They wanted to do something completely different and have a more casual black light dance in the auxiliary gym.  I loved the idea and the theme, "Glow the Night Away," was immediately approved by the administration.  They found a company which rented black lights and we ordered them the next day.  We ordered glow sticks and neon cups (I was more excited about these cups than a normal person should be) from a party store.  We asked for a simple black backdrop from our photographer and we made photo booth props out of fluorescent cardstock for students to hold in the photos.  We bought neon balloons and ordered LED lights to place inside them to make them glow (they looked so cool).  They really wanted candied popcorn so I googled it and found a company that made popcorn in ten different flavors in individual bags which made it so easy!  The officers even found the DJ!  Every detail came together very quickly and the officers were able to set everything up in less than an hour.  They were so excited for the dance to begin;  in fact, I've never had a group so excited for a dance!  It was a huge success!  We had over 300 people at the dance and it definitely looked like everyone was having a good time.  I am very proud of my officers for all of their hard work (but I am glad that it is over!).

Note:  Sometimes I feel like I live at Hunter High!  This week, not only have the officers been preparing for the dance, but they also worked on Spirit Week every day after school.  I also stayed really late at school on Friday to see the play The Crucible, which was fantastic.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Dancing Queen

Donna and the Dynamos are making a final visit to SLC in a production of Mamma Mia billed as the Farewell Tour.  When I saw that Mamma Mia was part of the Broadway at the Eccles 2016-2017 season, I debated about whether or not to get a ticket because I've seen it so many times.  I finally decided that it is such a fun show, you can see it over and over again and still be completely entertained.   How can you go wrong with platform boots and spandex jumpsuits?  Also, the music of Abba is so infectious that you simply can't help singing along and it is impossible to stay seated during the encore!  As predicted, I had so much fun last night.  Sophie Sheridan (Lizzie Markson) wants her father to walk her down the aisle but the only problem is that she doesn't know who he is!  When she invites Sam Carmichael (Shai Yammanee), Bill Austin (Marc Cornes), and Harry Bright (Andrew Tebo), the three likely possibilities, to her wedding without telling her mother (Betsy Padamonsky), chaos ensues!  I love all of the Abba songs in this show but my favorites are "Dancing Queen," "Lay All Your Love On Me," "Super Trouper," "Voulez-Vous," "Under Attack," and "Knowing Me, Knowing You,"  The choreography is so much fun and I especially love when the male ensemble dances wearing flippers.  All of the leads have amazing voices and this production is a great way to end the run of this spectacular show.  I dare anyone to stay seated when the leads come out on stage in colored spandex jumpsuits to sing "Dancing Queen" and "Waterloo" during the encore.  Mamma Mia has one more performance today at the Eccles Theatre (get tickets here).

Note:  I ran into Karen, my roommate in New York, at this show.  It was bound to happen sooner or later because we both see everything!  We tentatively planned to see Hamilton in Los Angeles over fall break!  She has season tickets to the Pantages Theatre and she is going to get me a ticket because we had so much fun in New York.  I can't wait!
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