I've seen a number of shows on my vacation trips to New York City. The Times Square area has been spiffed up a lot over the years I have been going there. During my 1998 visit the biggest problem was not
hookers or drug dealers but construction blocking sidewalks and crowds. I usualy visit in May which is much better than July, when it is hard to get tickets.
The French play Art was fun. It is a little weird because the characters are French and act French. I don't think I know any Americans who
would look at friendship quite so intellectually. It is a story about one of three friends who buys an expensive painting that is all white. This ticks
off one of the friends, a condescending old man, played by Alan Alda. The third friend is a henpecked nice guy who is not respected by his friends because he has no fixed opinions always tries to smooth things
over. It is the opposite of the bloated Titanic, small cast, simple set, good writing.
Cabaret is a great show in a cool location. I think it is right up there with Rent. I saw it at the old Studio 54. They moved there after a building fell
on their old theatre. A little old lady was killed in the collapse. A real New York City way to go. Stitting there watching TV a chunk of building falls throught the roof and squashes you.
The show is a revival. The director made the whole thing more shabby to evoke the deterioration of Weimar
Germany. The set was extended into the audiance with the audendce seated at tables in the orchestra with little tables with red shade lamps in the balcony.
The longest running show on Broadway. You may as well go, everyone else has. It has, snappy songs with
humorus lyrics, a cool set, and elaborate dance numbers. Be prepared for lots tourists who have never been to
the theatre before and can't find their seat. I could have strangled the people behind me. They sang along with the songs. Cats closed in 2000. A new show from the people behind ABBA, called Mama Mia!, will open in the fall
Lots of Singing and Dancing but not much in the way of a set. Bebe Newarth was great but it seemed like she
was phoining it in the night I went to see it. There is not much of a plot. A bunch of women kill their husbands/boyfriends and wind up in Cook County Jail. The slick lawer manipulates the meda to get them out.
I liked Contact. A lot of dancing and humor. I was surprised I could get a ticket. It won the Best Musical Tony last year. The theater is in Lincoln Center, which has good places to sit and watch people go by. 4/27/01
I saw a preview of the 2001 revival, big cast, big sets, lots of tap dancing, dumb story line. It will play well in Peoria and all the other SFX productions venues. 4/28/01
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum
A Funny Thing Happened is a nice little comedy set in Rome with lots of antics and one really big song, the
opening, Comedy Tonight. If you want a fun time and don't mind old jokes it is a fine light show. I bought the album.
Cole Porter songs, some with new words, keep the show going despite wooden acting by the leads. The leading
lady looks and sings nice, though. The little kid and the drunk uncle get all the good lines. The leading man from the stinko Steel Pier does nothing to help his career.
How To Succeed in Business Without Really Trying
This was one of the best shows I've seen on Broadway. It was a revival of the 1960
show staring Mathew Brodrick as J. Pierpont Finch, the role established Robert Morse. The revival retained the 1960 setting so what was a contemporary comedy
was a historical comedy by the time it was revived. H2S as it was known, is follows the comedic rise of Ponty Finch from the mailroom to the boardroom at World
Wide Wickets in a few weeks of careful manipulation and conniving. I particularly liked the manic Coffee song. I bought the album. I've heard the original 1960 cast
album and found it very similar. The movie version of How to Succeed, which retains Morse in his Broadway roll, is very good too.
How to Succeed is the comedy version of how I understood the world to work as a young man. You go to work
for a big corporation, commuting by train from the suburbs, a la Rob Petrie, to a skyscraper office. Your wife,
who hunted you down in her "I've got to land a man" phase, stays in the suburbs and has coffee with her friends
and makes dinner while the kids are at school. Eventually you get your 25 year pin and later retire to Florida and
die, your children too busy with their lives in the city to call. Somehow I missed the 70's social revolutions. I
guess it wasn't on TV until later. I still don't understand why that mode of living was replaced by the two earner day care get a divorce and pay child support mode.
The Life is set in Times Square from ten years ago, populated with junkies and hookers. The story is full of old
clichés like a virtuous heroin addicted Vietnam veteran and hookers with a heart of gold. The music was quite good and the dancing OK so it was better than Steel Pier but still not one of the best shows I've seen. The Life has closed on Broadway.
Not About Nightingales
A newly discovered Tennessee Williams play set in a brutal prison in the '30's. I was worried that a three hour
play would get too long but it was interesting throughout. I was very impressed with the physical acting. The play
probably would have had more impact if it had been updated to make it contemporary instead of historical. It
was in a contemporary setting when it was written. The set design was interesting, all shades of gray, even the American flag.
Once Uppon a Mattress
This revival was probably put together to give the slightly worn Sarah Jessica Parker someting to do for a while
between movie rolls. Mattress is a musical re-telling of the Princess and the Pea fable. Parker did a fine job as the
wild and athletic princess from a swamp who overcomes all obstacles erected by her mother-in-law to be to get her prince. Nice but unmemorable songs. A good kids show.
Of the Broadway musicals I've seen I liked two best, How to Succeed in
Business Without Really Trying and Rent. Only Rent is still playing. I stood in line for the few $20 seats they sell at the theatre every day. When I arrived at the line
the others said I was too late, the line was already too long for the number of tickets available. I am a gambler and decided to bet a little time versus a cheap ticket. When
the person in front of me, a local addict, wandered off in search of her favorite chemical I was in. The ladies behind me had a hard choice as they could only get one ticket for the five of them.
The show is about artistic AIDS infected losers from Alphabet City in the East Village. After seeing Rent I
wanted to cash in an live "La Vie Bohem" but that would mean leaving the middle class work hard all your life in an office and then die track I have gotten so good at so I just bought the two CD album.
The Scarlet Pimpernel
A nice musical. The lead actor sings nicely and has good comedic timing. Overall, the jokes work, the songs
don't. The advertisements say "Murder, Betrayal, Blackmail, bring your Mother". I agree, your mother will have a good time.
This musical, based on the same depression era dance marathon theme as the book They Shoot Horses Don't They,
set on Atlantic City's Steel Pier, was supprisingly light on dancing for a dance marathon musical. Unrelentingly grim, it features as leading man a dashing pilot that was killed before the show begins and exausted
characters dead on their feet. Steel Pier deservidly closed in 1997. The male lead went on to star in the wooden High Society
J. Bruce Ismay is fink. The stage tilts. The cast sings nicely until they drown and then they sing a little more. There
are not enough invisible life boats to save everyone as the invisible ship sinks. There were so many characters I didn't care who drowned or who didn't. Skip the show, check the album out of the library.
Blue Man Group - Tubes
I liked this show imensely from the decorated lobby to the audience participation gags. A typical gag was a loud
"Latecomer Alarm"that stopped the action as people who showed up late were televised on a large screen being
shown to their seats. It is best to be in a silly mood or to be a kid for this show. Now a long running engagement at the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas too.
The Capitol Steps
New lyrics to famous songs make fun of political figures. A very clever show that sailed over the heads of the
blue hared Wednesday matinee crowd I was with. The show has to change rapidly as their source material rotates so quickly. No need for old Packwood jokes we have Leuwinsky now.
OK, so I like parodies. I had a blast at Forbidden Broadway, staged in the basement of a diner style restaurant. I
got a stiff neck from the banquet style seating but it was worth it. Very fast paced, they jab everybody from Cats to Victor Victoria. I had dinner before the show, adequate meat loaf.
Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Your standard boy meets boy, boy gets botched sex change, boy ends up in a Kansas trailer park garage band,
story. Tame by San Francisco standards with a nice rock and roll soundtrack, particularly during the infrequent times when Hedwig is not singing. The Jane Street Theater in the Riverview Hotel is a hoot too.
Things Every Smart Traveler Should Know
A small satirical review performed in the Ibis Supper Club, it is the lightest of light entertainment. A fine thing for after dinner but I just had the $3 cup of tea. The Capitol Steps do this kind of thing a lot better.