Showing posts with label Broadway at the Eccles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Broadway at the Eccles. Show all posts

Friday, October 13, 2017

An American in Paris

I have wanted to see the Tony Award-winning musical An American in Paris for a long time so I was thrilled when Broadway at the Eccles announced it as the first show of the 2017-2018 season.  I was able to see it last night and I thought it was wonderful.  The story follows the movie of the same name (a personal favorite) pretty closely.  A U.S. soldier named Jerry Mulligan (McGee Maddox) decides to remain in Paris after World War II and meets an aspiring ballerina named Lise (Sara Esty).  He pursues her and they begin to fall in love.  However, Lise has become engaged to Henri (Nick Spangler) out of a duty she feels to him and his family for protecting her during the war and Jerry is pursued by a wealthy heiress (Emily Ferranti) who wants to promote his art.  Will they choose love or duty?  Both Maddox and Esty are incredible dancers and the choreography is absolutely stunning, especially in "I've Got Beginner's Luck" and "I'll Build a Stairway to Paradise."  The final 18-minute ballet to the tune of "An American in Paris" is simply spectacular and it was amazing to me that the leads have the skill and stamina to perform such demanding choreography at the end of a Broadway show!  It was a lot of fun to hear the well-known songs, written by George and Ira Gershwin, such as "I Got Rhythm," "'S Wonderful," "But Not For Me," and "They Can't Take That Away From Me."  I loved all of the costumes but the sets are so creative!  The minimalist sketches that Jerry draws throughout the show are often projected on screens to transport audience members to the middle of Paris.  This is an old-fashioned and incredibly romantic musical that reminded me of the big Hollywood extravaganzas of the 1950s.  Who could ask for anything more!  I highly recommend seeing it if you get a chance and this particular production runs at the Eccles Theatre until Sunday (tickets may be purchased here).

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Dirty Dancing

On Thursday night I saw the Broadway touring company production of Dirty Dancing and, for the second time this week, I was pleasantly surprised by my reaction to it.  I am not a big fan of turning popular movies into stage musicals but this production was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it.  In my opinion Dirty Dancing is not really a traditional musical because it is more like watching the 1987 movie performed live on stage.  It follows the movie very closely, almost scene for scene, and includes many of the songs from the early 1960s that are included in the movie, such as "This Magic Moment," "Do You Love Me?," "Love Is Strange," "In the Still of the Night," and "You Don't Own Me," most of which are performed by ensemble cast members rather than the leads.  What makes this show so much fun to watch are the dance numbers.  It is the summer of 1963 and Baby Houseman (Bronwyn Reed) and her family have come to Kellerman's Resort for a vacation.  She meets Johnny (Christopher Tierney) and Penny (Jennifer Mealani Jones), two of the dance instructors at the resort, and tries to help out when Penny gets in trouble.  The scenes where the dancers perform for the guests are quite thrilling and I was especially impressed by Jones.  The scenes where Johnny tries to teach Baby the routine so she can stand in for Penny to keep their jobs at another resort are hilarious.  I especially loved how they staged the scenes of them practicing the lift in the water.  That elicited much laughter from the audience.  The final scene where Baby and Johnny dance to "(I've Had) The Time of My Life" was definitely a crowd-pleaser and the audience cheered when Johnny said, "No one puts Baby in a corner."  They also cheered when they did the lift!  Reed is so endearing as Baby and, as I mentioned, I loved her awkward attempts to dance at the beginning (I think it must be even more difficult to dance incorrectly than to get the steps right).  Tierney is a great dancer who is extremely charismatic as Johnny and it is easy to see why Baby is drawn to him (very easy on the eyes!).  I found this show to be wildly entertaining and, if you are a fan of the movie, you will definitely enjoy this production.  It continues at the Eccles Theatre until June 25 (tickets may be purchased here).

Note:  This musical might not be appropriate for young audience members.  The dancing is very sensual and one of the main characters has an abortion.  The woman sitting next to me left with her three young daughters at intermission.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella

Thursday night I went to the Eccles Theater to see the Broadway touring production of Rodger's & Hammerstein's Cinderella.  After watching this musical I can definitively say that I prefer the Disney version of this story.  I really didn't like the commentary on class structure and the fact that Cinderella is now a social reformer who must rescue the prince from everyone in his court deceiving him about the conditions in his kingdom.  I also didn't like the portrayal of the stepsisters who are merely silly instead of mean and end up as Cinderella's sympathetic conspirators.  I'm sure that this is an attempt to make the story more up-to-date for modern audiences but I yearned for the traditional fairy tale because it is so much more magical and romantic.  Having said that, I did love the gorgeous costumes and I was especially impressed by the quick changes from rags to elaborate ball gowns in the blink of an eye all while Cinderella is singing.  I also really loved the choreography, particularly during the "Cinderella Waltz" which is amazing.  Both Tatyana Lubov, as Cinderella, and Hayden Stanes, as Prince Topher, have wonderful voices and my favorite songs were "In My Own Little Corner," "Ten Minutes Ago," "A Lovely Night," and "Do I Love You Because You're Beautiful?"  Joanna Johnson, a Utah native, is hilarious as Charlotte, one of the stepsisters, and I really enjoyed her in the song "Stepsister's Lament."  There were a lot of little girls in the audience, wearing tiaras that you can buy in the lobby, but if you are planning to take your little girls you should know that this production is very different from the one that they are probably familiar with.  However, the performances, costumes, and choreography make this a fun night out.  It runs at the Eccles Theater through June 4 (go here for tickets).

Note:  The theater was evacuated in the middle of the ball scene because of a fire, which turned out to be a false alarm.  I was impressed that the cast was able to pick right up with the same energy as before the alarm.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

The Lion King

Even though I have seen The Lion King many times (I saw it on Broadway less than a year ago), I don't think that I will ever get tired of it because it is absolutely magical!  I don't think I've ever made it through "Circle of Life" without getting a tear in my eye.  That baby elephant coming up the aisle gets me every time!  I saw the touring company production last night and it ranks right up there with productions I've seen on Broadway and in London.  I enjoyed every minute of it (tears and all).   The stage musical tells the well-known story of how a lion cub learns how to be a king and it includes many of the songs from the animated classic as well as some new ones.  I absolutely love the puppets and prosthetics used to represent the animals.  After a while you don't even see the actors manipulating the puppets.  My favorites are the giraffes and elephants.  The staging is incredible and I especially love the traditional music used as Mufasa and Simba frolic on the grasslands, when Sarabi and the lionesses hunt an antelope, and the wildebeest stampede in the gorge.  I was very impressed with the lead actors in this production and I had goosebumps when Mufasa (Gerald Ramsey) sang "They Live in You" and when Simba (Dashaun Young) sang "Endless Night."  Nia Holloway (as Nala) sang my favorite song, "Shadowland," better than I've ever heard it before.  I also really liked Rafiki (Buyi Zama) and her rendition of "He Lives in You (Reprise)."   My favorite part of seeing The Lion King, as ever, is watching the wonder on the faces of the children as they see all of the animals and this production made me feel like I did the first time I saw it.  It is just so magical!  It will run at the Eccles Theatre until April 16 (go here for tickets) and I highly recommend that you bring the children!

Note:  I think I enjoyed this production more than the one on Broadway because the sound was better.  I could actually hear Scar and the hyenas.  I did, however, miss eating cheesecake at Junior's after the show!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Matilda

To be honest, I didn't have a lot of interest in seeing Matilda, the Broadway musical based on the book by Roald Dahl.  However, I saw it last night and, as is so often the case, I enjoyed it much more than I expected.  It was quite entertaining with outstanding performances by a cast of adorable children.  Matilda Wormwood (the incredibly talented Jenna Weir), a precocious five year old with a penchant for reading and telling stories, is neglected by her mother (Darcy Stewart), an amateur Latin ballroom dancer, and her father (Matt Harrington), an unscrupulous used car salesman, and is terrorized by Miss Trunchbull (Dan Chameroy), the tyrannical headmistress of her school.  The story is quite dark but Matilda triumphs in the end because sometimes you have to be a little naughty and stand up for what is right.  As I mentioned, the children are absolutely adorable and I particularly enjoyed the song "When I Grow Up" (I may or may not have had a tear in my eye during this song).  Miss Trunchbull is hilarious (think of Miss Hannigan crossed with an East German Olympic athlete) but I think my very favorite character is Rudolpho (Eric Craig), Mrs. Wormwood's ballroom dance partner.  His over-the-top performance in the number "Loud" had me (and everyone around me) laughing out loud.  All of the song and dance numbers, especially "Revolting Children," are a lot of fun but I often had difficulty hearing the lyrics which was a little bit disappointing.  The set is very clever and I particularly loved the use of typography throughout (the dancing on the alphabet blocks during "School Song" is amazing).  This is definitely not my favorite musical but I did enjoy it.  The Eccles Theatre was filled with children (some quite young) which really surprised me because I think the story is very dark and most of the humor seemed to go right over their heads (at least the ones sitting near me).  I recommend leaving the kiddos at home for the remaining three performances (go here for tickets).

Note:  Broadway at the Eccles will be announcing the 2017-2018 season on March 8 and I can't wait!  I am beyond excited that I will get to see Hamilton again!

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!

Friday, January 20, 2017

Kinky Boots

I have wanted to see the musical Kinky Boots for so long!  Every time Broadway in Utah (now Broadway at the Eccles) sent out a survey to season ticket holders, I always voted for this show to come to SLC.  I even contemplated getting a ticket during my theatre trip to NYC but, by that time, I knew it was coming!  I finally got to see it last night and I loved it because it is such a fun musical about having the courage to be yourself and having the courage to accept others for who they are.  Charlie (Curt Hansen) wants nothing to do with Price & Son, his father's shoe factory, so he runs away to London.  When his father dies and leaves him the factory, he soon learns that it has been losing money for years and that he must close it and fire the workers he has known all of his life.  When he meets the drag queen Lola (J. Harrison Ghee), he decides to try and save the business by meeting the needs of an under served niche market: high-heeled boots for transvestites!  There are inevitable complications and Charlie and Lola must learn to accept each other in order for their boots to be successful.  I loved all of the music, written by Cyndi Lauper, and Ghee gives an incredible performance, especially in the songs "Not My Father's Son" and "Hold Me in Your Heart."  (Hansen is endearing but I didn't find his singing to be anything special; it hardly matters because Ghee steals the show).  The ensemble is a lot of fun, particularly Lauren (Rose Hemingway), one of the factory workers, and the transvestites who perform with Lola.  The choreography is clever and the audience cheered out loud when the cast danced on moving conveyor belts during the song "Everybody Say Yeah."  I had a lot of fun watching this show and I highly recommend that you get a ticket (go here) to one of the remaining performances through January 22 at the Eccles Theatre.

Friday, December 9, 2016

White Christmas

Last night I braved all of the downtown traffic (there was a Jazz game, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas concert, The Nutcracker, and people seeing the lights at Temple Square, not to mention snow) to see the Broadway touring production of White Christmas.  This musical is such a holiday tradition for me!  I've seen the movie countless times and I saw the PTC production several years ago as well as productions at both Hunter High and Bountiful High but I had never seen the Broadway version before.  It was so much fun!  Broadway stars Bob Wallace (Sean Montgomery) and Phil Davis (Jeremy Benton) meet the Haynes sisters, Judy (Kelly Sheehan) and Betty (Kerry Conte), and decide to follow them to Vermont where they have a gig at the Columbia Inn.  There they meet their former commanding officer from the war, General Waverly (Conrad John Schuck), who owns the Columbia Inn and is having financial difficulties due to the lack of snow.  Wallace and Davis decide to bring their show to the Columbia Inn and invite the soldiers from their company to a performance on Christmas Eve.  Add a receptionist (Lorna Luft) and a granddaughter (Clancy Penny) who think they should be in show business, an overwrought stage manager (Aaron Galligan-Stierle), and love gone awry, and you have a delightful show full of big song and dance numbers.  I especially love the songs "Sisters" (my sisters and I sing this all of the time), "Snow," "Blue Skies," and "I Love a Piano."  The cast is superb (Lorna Luft is Judy Garland's daughter and she can certainly belt out a song) and the ensemble performs all of the high energy choreography (I loved the tap dancing) brilliantly.  The costumes are over-the-top and the sets are quite elaborate, especially the Regency Room.  The message is heart-warming and the final scene where the cast performs "White Christmas" just as it starts to snow (even in the audience) will definitely give you a big dose of Christmas cheer.  This holiday classic runs at the Eccles Theater until Dec. 11 and tickets may be purchased here.

Note:  Almost all of the people sitting around me have season tickets and, after meeting at Beautiful last month, we greeted each other like long lost friends last night!  The man in front of me called us the Thursday Night Club!

Friday, November 18, 2016

Beautiful

I finally got to see a show at the new Eccles Theater!  I've been looking forward to Beautiful for quite a while because several people who went on the New York City theatre trip with me saw this show and absolutely raved about it (I chose not to see it in NYC because I knew I would be seeing it in SLC).  Beautiful is a jukebox musical, a stage show which uses previously released pop songs that are either conceptualized to tell a story like Mamma Mia or used to tell the biographical story about the performer whose music is featured like Jersey Boys, describing how Carole King rose to stardom in the 1970s using the songs she wrote such as "So Far Away," "Will You Love Me Tomorrow," "Up on the Roof," "It's Too Late," "You've Got a Friend," "(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman," and "I Feel The Earth Move" among others.  I had forgotten how many great songs she wrote (I saw King in concert with James Taylor several years ago and I was surprised then as well).  Act I begins with a sixteen year old King (Julia Knitel) deciding to go Manhattan to sell one of her songs to music producer Don Kirshner (Curt Bouril) and continues with her development as a hit songwriter with her husband Gerry Goffin (Liam Tobin) and the rivalry with the songwriting team of Cynthia Weil (covered by DeLaney Westfall last night) and Barry Mann (Ben Fankhauser).  Act II includes the disintegration of King's marriage to Goffin and the writing and recording of her seminal album Tapestry.  King's legendary concert at Carnegie Hall in 1971 is used as a framing device.  I think this musical is staged brilliantly.  King and Goffin or Weil and Mann would begin singing a song as they wrote it and then the artist who made it famous would continue it in a big production number including "Some Kind of Wonderful" with the Drifters, "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" with the Shirelles, "Up on the Roof" with the Drifters, "The Locomotion" with Little Eva, "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" with the Everly Brothers (my favorite), and "One Fine Day" with Janelle Wood.  Knitel does great job with the role and I especially enjoyed her rendition of "Natural Woman" and I also loved the comic relief provided by Fankhauser.  This is a fun show to watch and many people around me automatically started singing the songs.  It runs at the Eccles Theater until Nov. 20.

Note:  Jessie Mueller originated the role of Carole King on Broadway (and won a Tony).  I got to see her perform in the original cast of Waitress on Broadway and she was amazing.

Monday, September 12, 2016

The Eccles Theater

Over the weekend I was invited to an open house to get a sneak peek at the brand-new, state-of-the-art George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Theater in downtown SLC.  It is absolutely gorgeous and I can hardly wait for the Broadway at the Eccles (formerly known as Broadway in Utah) 2016-2017 season to start!
The theater is located in the heart of downtown SLC right on Main Street.  Locating the theater here has done quite a bit to revitalize Main Street and I'm looking forward to going to many of my favorite downtown restaurants before shows.
I love the reflection of the city in the glass doors and windows.
The lobby is very sleek and modern with different colored glass on every level.  My favorite is the purple on the third tier.  There is also a restaurant in the lobby called the Encore Bistro and I can vouch for the caprese sandwich with orzo salad.  Yummy!
The third tier also boasts a terrace with an amazing view of downtown SLC.  I imagine this will be a lovely place for a drink during intermission!
The Delta Performance Hall inside the theater.  The lights are absolutely dazzling, especially on the ceiling.
As part of the open house, season ticket holders were able to "meet" their seats!  I met my seat and I think we are going to get along just fine.  It is really comfortable and there is a lot of leg room!  Hooray!
The view of the stage from my seat!  The shows coming to the Eccles Theater this season are Beautiful - The Carol King Musical, Irving Berlin's White Christmas, Kinky Boots, Matilda, Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella, and Dirty Dancing.  There are quite a few special engagements to add to a season ticket as well.  I added The Lion King, Mamma Mia, and The Book of Mormon.  If this little tour of the beautiful Eccles Theater has convinced you to get season tickets, go here for more information.  Another incentive: having season tickets for the 2016-2017 season guarantees you tickets for Hamilton which is coming to SLC for the 2017-2018 season!  I can't believe this will be my view for Hamilton!  It is a little bit better than the view I had at the Richard Rodgers Theatre (although I did see the original cast in my nosebleed seat!).
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