Monday, February 28, 2011

Camp Rock: The Musical

I’ll admit it. I’m a Disney movie junkie. Even more so, I love their musicals. High School Musical, Hannah Montana, Camp Rock. I love them all. You can call me a nerd. I’ll agree with you. In a way, I’m perpetually a 12 year old girl.
When I found out that the Cumberland County Playhouse was going to have a production of Camp Rock, I knew I’d need to go. I took my sister to see CCP’s production of High School Musical a few years ago, and it was wonderful. My sister is a little older now. She’s in high school. So I thought I might have trouble getting her to go see Camp Rock with me. I was actually prepared to go see it by myself. But instead, I got sneaky and offered to take both my sister AND her boyfriend. It worked.
I love that the Cumberland County Playhouse does the productions specifically for young people every year. It gives local children and young people the opportunity to be a part of theatre when our local schools are sorely lacking in the fine arts. Every production I’ve seen has been very good. Obviously, they don’t have as much of a talent pool to pick from as a larger area would have, but they always put on an amazing show.
Some of these kids really could continue in theatre as a career. Some of them will do a few shows and have something to talk about when they’re older. Some of them may do this one show and never do another. Either way, it’s a wonderful opportunity for children in this area.
There were some exceptional standouts in the show. Austin Price as Shane Gray was entrancing. Austin is extremely talented and very much can hold the attention of the audience while he’s on stage. Jason Gray was played by Ian Sweitzer. Ian, while not playing a huge role in the show, did a fantastic job of keeping the audience laughing. The entire cast could be on stage doing a group number and you’d immediately see Ian and his comedic actions.
Jordan Wright played Luke Williams, the lead singer at rival Camp Star (here’s where I should note that Jordan is from my hometown, but I don’t know him, so I don’t consider my opinion too biased). Jordan gave a stand-out performance in his role as Luke. He is extremely talented vocally.
Overall, my only complaint was that the show was titled Camp Rock: The Musical, when it really was based on the sequel, Camp Rock: The Final Jam. I haven’t seen the second movie, so I was a little lost when the show started.
My sister and her boyfriend loved the show, and both wanted to know when we could go back to see something else. It is definitely a great show for families, but if you just enjoy a cute, fun musical, you would enjoy the show as well.

Monday, February 21, 2011

The Vagina Monologues

On Saturday night I had the pleasure of seeing The Vagina Monologues at my alma mater, Tennessee Technological University. While I was in college I took a few theatre classes, only to discover that my joy of theatre was in watching it more than being a part of it.

The Vagina Monologues was a show I saw while I was still in school. At that time it had only been performed one other time in the area and the title alone was enough to make some people stay away. The title alone was also the reason some of us went.

The Vagina Monologues was written by Eve Ensler. It is an eye opening experience and helps to bring awareness to sexual abuse against women. It will make you laugh, it will embarrass you, it will make you cry, and it may even shock you.

One of my favorite things about seeing The Vagina Monologues is the diverse cast. Every time I’ve seen it (and all the other times from what I’ve been told) the cast varies. Some people have had tons of theatre experience. Some have never set foot on a stage before. In this production, the range was no less impressive.

Directed by Steven W. Gwilt and Daniel Evan Montgomery, this production was beautiful. The stage was extremely simple, allowing the audience to focus on the actresses and their stories. There were minimal props. In fact, I can only think of one of the monologues that had a prop that wasn’t part of the costumes of the actresses.

Some of my favorite monologues were the funny ones. There’s nothing like listening to an entire theatre of people screaming, “Cunt! Cunt! Cunt!” along with the actress on stage as we did with the monologue entitled “Reclaiming Cunt.” Or laughing along with your neighbor as “The Angry Vagina” complains about tampons and the “duck lips” used in a gynecological exam.

During my favorite comedic monologue titled “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy,” I laughed so hard I cried. Believe me when I say that I had no idea all the different type of orgasms there could be. And Weslie Webster (of Cumberland County Playhouse fame) did a fantastic job of teaching the audience each and every one. Did you know that there’s a Diva Orgasm (that sounds remarkably like Lady Gaga)?

A few of the monologues were serious, even sad. “My Vagina was my Village” was a beautiful piece told from the point of view of a girl who had been sexually abused during war time in her country. “They Beat the Girl Out of My Boy” was told from the point of view of several transgender women. It was heartbreaking and eye opening.

There were so many talented women performing in this show that it’s hard to pick a favorite. Had I not read the bios in the program, I would have been hard pressed to pick out the rookies from the seasoned actresses.

Overall, it was a fantastic show. And the best part of the night? All the proceeds went to benefit TN Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence and SAFER (Students Active For Ending Rape).

And a small disclosure: one of my very best friends was in the show. However, she played none of the parts I mentioned, so I don’t feel too biased with my assessment. :)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Season Tickets and Future Plans

So the other day I finally got around to purchasing my season tickets for the Cumberland County Playhouse. I've never had season tickets to anything before, so this is new for me. And I kinda like it. It means that I'll see at least 14 productions this year. :) Which probably means 14 reviews, give or take a couple, for my blog.

First up, I'm going to see Camp Rock in a couple of weeks. Yup, CCP is doing Camp Rock. I saw High School Musical last year (?) when they did it. I took my sister. She had a blast. This year, I'm taking her and her boyfriend (gasp! When did my little sister grow up??).

Truth be known, I would have gone to see them both anyway, even without having a younger sister to take. I love musicals. HSM and Camp Rock play a part in bringing our young people back to the musical (even if it isn't in the classic sense). And, I own Camp Rock on DVD. I asked for it for Christmas last year... and got it! :)

But even before that, my alma mater, Tennessee Tech University, will be doing a production of The Vagina Monologues. They've done it every year for a while. I saw it twice when I was in college (I won't say how long ago that was...). This time, I'm going to see it for an alternative reason (other than just because it's a good show). One of my best friends (and former roommate) is going to be in it. I'm so excited to see it next weekend.

So, my 1 reader out there, be prepared for some more posts coming your way soon!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Stunt Casting?

I've heard so many things about stunt casting. Some people are so opposed to it. They say it takes away from "real theater". They say it cheapens the show. They say it puts less talented people in roles that more talented (stage) actors miss out on when they really are the ones that need the jobs.

I have my own opinions. Sometimes they are close to those above. Sometimes they aren't. First of all, actors are actors. Sometimes they've started out in theatre. Some of them have professional training. Many famous actors and actresses started out by doing theater in their hometowns while they were in school. Others pursued it further before breaking big in Hollywood. I will agree that some actors don't translate well to the stage. They need that camera and that set verses the audience and the inability to stop and re-film a scene. I won't say I haven't seen actors or actresses that were "Hollywood" famous do a poor job on stage. I have.

But not all of them do a poor job. And is it considered "stunt casting" if they are good? I saw A Little Night Music with Catherine Zeta Jones. I didn't go to see her. I actually went because Angela Lansbury was in it. Is it considered stunt casting to cast either of them? In a way, it was for both of them. I specifically went to see Angela Lansbury. Would I have gone to see the show if she hadn't been in it? I don't know. I would venture to say it wouldn't have been at the top of my list.

I'm sure that people specifically went to see Catherine Zeta Jones (believe me, I would know. The line at the stage door was so horrendous that I didn't even stay). She wasn't horrible in her role. I thought she did a respectable job. Her voice was good. Her acting was good. However, I do NOT believe that her performance was Tony worthy. That, however, is a whole 'nother story.

Producers need to make money, or they can't make the show last. They need names to get not only Broadway fans in the seats, but people who aren't normally theatre people. If they need a name to get tickets sold, I don't have a problem with it. My problem comes when the person they put in that role can't act. Or sing. Or whatever. Broadway is live theatre. You can't cut & re-shoot. You can't auto-tune. You have to get out there and give it your all and do it to the best of your ability. And sometimes actors just aren't cut out for that.

And onto the reason this whole post was started. New casting for American Idiot. Sigh. If you know me, you know this is the first and only show I've ever seen more than once. At current, I've seen it 4 times, which is saying something considering I have to travel over 16 hours to get to NYC. The show has been open for nearly a year now and in all truth, will probably close May 1st (the date they currently have tickets on sale thru). Most of the people who were in the show, were also in the show when it started in Berkely. It's time that they are wanting to leave, looking for new endeavors.

In the past few weeks Corbin Reid and Theo Stockman have left the show. Christina Sajous (Extraordinary Girl) and Michael Esper (Will) are scheduled to be leaving soon. In the few months before that, original cast members Tony Vincent (St. Jimmy) and Mary Faber (Heather) have also left the show.

Mary was replaced by a virtual unknown, so that couldn't have been stunt casting. Tony has been temporarily replaced by Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day. That is stunt casting at it's finest. I've missed him every time I've seen the show, but he's filling seats and from what people say, he's pretty good. Once again, if he's good is it really stunt casting?

It's the role of Will that worries me. Yesterday it was announced that Justin Guarini (of American Idol fame) has confirmed that he will be joining American Idiot in March. Here's the deal, there are only 2 roles that are ending around then. Both Billie Joe (St. Jimmy) and Michael Esper (Will) are leaving February 27th. While Justin didn't confirm what role he would be stepping into, it seems fair to say that he will probably be the new Will considering the rumors that say Adam Lambert is in talks to play St. Jimmy.

He has some theatre experience. He just recently completed a run in Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. In fact, Ben Brantley, who reviewed the show for the New York Times, said "For the record, Mr. Guarini, the first runner-up of the first season of “American Idol,” is just fine as the stammering Carlos." This is positive considering most of the review was horrible. But in general, I'm scared. Justin doesn't strike me as hard-core enough, or dark enough to play Will. Will is a seriously disturbed young man with a TON of emotional issues and baggage.

Is casting Justin, a semi-well known name, another form of stunt casting? I know if Adam Lambert ends up playing St. Jimmy, that would totally be stunt casting (but with Adam's former theatre experience, I'm okay with that and think he would do a good job with the role).

All in all, here's my view on Justin playing the role of Will: If he gets the role and he's good, I will publicly (on my blog anyway) apologize for my doubt in his abilities to assume such a dark, emotionally disturbed character. Until I see him in the role, I won't believe it. And I hope that the casting people know what they're doing. Cause casting him just because of his name could be a serious back-fire and an insult to those of us who love the show.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Theo's Last Performance

Sunday night was Theo Stockman's last performance in American Idiot. I could go on and on about how wonderful he was in his role. I could talk about how he gave everything he had every time I saw him on stage. I could talk about how nice he was at the stage door each time I waited.
But I won't. I'll just share this youtube clip and tell you all how much I wish I could have been there.
There may be another Representative from Jingletown, but no one will be able to do it, quite like Theo.