“It’s the Eye of the Tiger”

I want to take a moment to talk about Rocky. Yes, that Rocky, the musical based on the Sylvester Stallone movie.

I want to start off by stating right off the bat that I LOVED this show! And seeing it was one of the best experiences I’ve had at the theatre! I basically went in to this show blind. I had not yet seen the movie and I hadn’t really heard much about the musical. Why then did I see this particular show you might ask? Well, this was on my second trip to NYC (I was with my mom this time), in the summer of 2014. We weren’t sure what time we would get to the city, but had hoped to make it in time for a show (similar to the BroadwayCon trip this trip was Thursday-Monday). We did make it! So we went to TKTS to see what was available. We first tried for Mamma Mia (which I have yet to see live, but my mom had seen in Toronto) then Rock of Ages (which we had both seen in Toronto) but we didn’t really like the options for either of those. After looking at the board again and talking to one of the employees, we decided to give Rocky a try. It was the best decision of the whole trip (and it was a great trip all around)!

I think it actually worked out well for me not knowing the story going in to it. For instance I didn’t know if Rocky was going to win at the end or not. It was kind of refreshing and exciting to not know. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still exciting to see shows with which I am already familiar, but with this one, I liked not knowing.

The cast of Rocky was incredible. Andy Karl in the title role was amazing. Every part of his performance was excellent- singing, acting, physicality, all of it. Margo Seibert’s Adrian was wonderful and a perfect match for Karl’s Rocky. The fitness level of the entire cast was very impressive; it was very clearly a physically demanding show- the gym and training sequences, wow! It was also quite exciting for me to see Wallace Smith in the show too because I had actually seen him in Godspell on Broadway (Godspell having been my 2nd Broadway show). With Rocky just being my 3rd Broadway show it was my first experience actually seeing someone in two different Broadway musicals, and that was really cool for me! (If you haven’t yet figured it out, it’s little things like that that make me really happy!)

I also love the music in the show! Thank you Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty! My favourite numbers include “My Nose Ain’t Broken,” “Raining,” “Happiness,” and “Keep on Standing.”

Now, what I really want to tell you about from this show is the set! WOW (yes, a genuine, all-caps-deserving WOW!) I’d never seen anything like it before in my life! The whole show was filled with impressive set pieces including the pet shop with glowing fish tanks, the iconic stairs, the meat packing factory, and the use of screens really added to the effect, especially during the training sequences. But what really stood out above all else  was the boxing ring for the final fight between Rocky and Apollo Creed.

I was sitting in the balcony for this show so I was seeing all of this from above. It started with the boxing ring moving out to the front edge of the stage and then a certain section of the audience in the orchestra (I couldn’t see how many rows it was from my seat, and there was too much going on to bother looking too closely) moved up onto the stage to bleachers that had appeared behind the ring. The ring then moved out beyond the stage into/over the recently vacated seats. And suddenly it became theatre in the round! There was even a sort of jumbo-tron above the ring with video feed from the stage/ring. It was incredible! I was literally sitting on the edge of my seat! I couldn’t remember the last time I had felt that excited at the theatre, I was actually shaking with excitement. There was just something special about this show! Then they had the final boxing match. I don’t know exactly how long it was but I think it was quite similar to the movie (which I have since seen). It’s certainly an experience I won’t forget!

I was also really glad when I looked back and saw that Christopher Barreca won the 2014 Tony for Best Scenic Design for a Musical! Totally deserved, in my opinion!

As I mentioned before, I have since seen the move. Actually I’ve seen the first three Rocky movies now, and I do plan on watching the rest of them. As I was watching the movie it struck me how close the musical really was to it. I was quite impressed. It’s always hard when it comes to adaptations, you never really know how close they’ll be to the source material and sometimes the differences matter and sometimes they don’t. But boy was Rocky close!

I don’t know if Rocky will ever come back anywhere, but if it does, I would recommend it, whether or not you are familiar with the movie! I went in blind an it worked out wonderfully for me, and it has made me a fan of the movie too. It’s one of those shows, that has a bit of everything; it brings the spectacle but also brings the story, characters, and the music. For me, the spectacle of it all just added to the experience. I loved it from the beginning, way before the boxing ring moved into the orchestra (which also never even crossed my mind as something that could happen until it did). I think all the parts came together really well for Rocky, the technical and the story and character driven elements and moments. You’re rooting for Rocky and Adrian, and then Adrian gets her moment and stands up to Paulie. It’s great! And then you get the scenes like the training sequences and the boxing match that require a lot of technology but it all felt very much a part of the story. For me, it wasn’t just technology and spectacle for the sake of technology and spectacle. It was very much a part of the whole experience and I for one thought it was very well done.

It was actually closing weekend when we were there and there was a part of me that was tempted to see it a 2nd time that same trip. We didn’t, but if I ever get the chance I would see Rocky again in a heartbeat!

rocky

BroadwayCon 2016: Part 3

January 24th: BroadwayCon Day 3 (the Final Day)

And so we have reached the final day of BroadwayCon 2016. And once again I was flying solo.

One of the panels I was most looking forward to was on the last day of BroadwayCon: “Insiders, Outsiders & Masked Avengers: Your Role in the Broadway Community,” featuring Patrick Hinds (creator/host of the Theater People Podcast), Nikka Graff Lanzarone (one of the creators/hosts of The Ensemblist Podcast), Anrew Briedis (@AnnoyingActorFriend), Laura Heywood (@BroadwayGirlNYC), Aaron J. Albano, and Erin Quill. The Theatre People Podcast and The Ensemblist are two of my favourite podcasts and I was really excited to see Patrick and Nikka, who I also met after the panel! (Though actually I met Patrick at the Marketplace before the panel, and talked to him again afterwards!)

After a bit of a break with was time for the Smash panel with Joshua Safran (Executive Producer and Showrunner for season 2 of Smash).

*Side note: As I was waiting for this panel Alex Lacamoire walked past me in the hallway. I was too nervous to go up to him though, and it looked like he was heading somewhere, not just walking around.*

The Smash panel itself was a lot of fun, but I’ll have to leave it at that because we had to promise not to share anything from the panel!

Following that I had my second autograph session, this time with Nikka Graff Lanzarone and Andrew Briedis! I had actually forgotten about this session when I met Nikka after the morning panel, so I ended up getting her autograph twice (but I’m OK with that!)

I then wandered around the Marketplace some more, since it would be my last chance. I think this was when I saw Laura Osnes signing autographs at one of the booths. I did not get her autograph though because the line was quite long and I didn’t know if you had to buy something from that particular booth for her to sign, and I had already spent enough money over the course of the weekend!

I decided to head to the MainStage and ended up catching the end of the Waitress panel and saw part of Sara Bareilles’s performance of “She Used to Be Mine.” I wish I had seen the full performance! I wasn’t yet familiar with the song at that point but what I saw/heard was beautiful (I have since listened to this song multiple times!) And once again, I learned later that it wasn’t a planned performance!

Next up was “Next Stop Broadway” which featured short interviews and performances about and from upcoming musicals including Tuck EverlasingNatasha Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812 (this one also featured a cast announcement and a video message from Josh Groban), Nerds, and Found. It was cool getting a sort of sneak peak at what was/is to come on Broadway (though unfortunately Tuck Everlasting is already closing and Nerds is no longer happening).

 We then had to vacate the MainStage so they could prepare for the closing and I got to spend some more time waiting in line. And then it was time for the final event of the weekend, “So Long, Farewell… to BroadwayCon 2016.” The closing ceremony featured a sing-along of the BroadwayCon Opening number, “BroadwayCon’s the Place for You;” Lena Hall singing (belting) “Lullaby of Broadway;” and a “Seasons of Love” sing along. A beautiful ending to a beautiful weekend!

With BroadwayCon ending in the early evening, it did mean there was time for us to fit in another show that night, so my dad picked us up tickets to Avenue Q, which became my first Off-Broadway show! I was already a fan of the show but I don’t think I’ve ever related to that it as much as I did seeing it that night! It was also my first time really leaving the hotel since the Thursday night so it was nice to get out, and to see the crazy amounts of snow everywhere!

Parting Thoughts

I am interested to see what the “big” show(s) will be at BroadwayCon next year. I’m sure the “big” shows from this year will still be popular (I’m looking at you Hamilton) and there are the late-comers from this season that could still have their chance to shine, but there is a whole new season on its way with new shows already announced and others we haven’t heard about yet! It’s so exciting to think about and consider! What will be the next “big” thing?!

I’m also interested to see how it will be at a different venue since BroadwayCon 2017 will be at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center. (I don’t know about you but every time I hear/think of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center I automatically think of Benny’s line in “Benny’s Dispatch” from In the Heights!) It’s like the 2013 Tony Award- they’re going bigger!

I can’t wait for next year!

9. Day 3 Closing 1

BroadwayCon 2016: Part 2

January 23rd- BroadwayCon Day 2 (aka BlizzardCon)

I have to say I was very happy that we were staying at the Hilton as this was the day of the huge blizzard in NYC! And I had my dad with me this time!

We started the day with “The BroadwayCon Feud,” hosted by Jenn Colella, with Lesli Margherita, Rob McClure, Susan Blackwell, Jonathan Groff, Ryann Redmond, and some BroadwayCon attendees. It was so much fun and Jenn made an excellent host!

We then went to a set design panel followed by a visit to the BroadwayCon Museum, highlights from which included models of the Hamilton set and Lena Hall’s wedding dress covered in signatures from the Hedwig and the Angry Inch cast party!

In the autograph/photobooth lottery before BroadwayCon I got 3 autograph sessions the first of which was on this day with Andrew, Celia, & Maggie Keenan-Bolger. It was really cool getting to meet all of them (I actually didn’t know that I was going to be meeting Maggie too!) but especially Andrew! Unfortunately my second autograph session, which was also supposed to be on the 23rd with Kait Kerrigan and Brian Lowdermilk, was cancelled due to the blizzard. As an unexpected bonus though, I did get to meet Lisa Kron when I was wandering around the BroadwayCon Marketplace. She was at the Drama Bookshop booth, where I was already buying Seth Rudetsky’s Broadway Diary, so I couldn’t resist buying the Fun Home cast recording (which I didn’t yet have) and getting her autograph!

Due to the blizzard a lot of the programming for the day was altered and we spent a lot of the day back at the MainStage. There was karaoke, hosted by Ben Cameron. There were a lot of talented people there among the fans! There was the “Avenue Q & A” which consisted on short interviews with some of the Broadway stars who were in attendance that day. Highlights included Andrew Keenan-Bolger singing part of “Letter from the Refuge” (the song added for Crutchie in the touring production of Newsies); Lesli Margherita talking about working at Disney and singing “Part of Your World;” and Rob McClure’s story about seeing Sweeney Todd  for the first time (and all his consecutive times seeing it) followed by his one-man rendition of “Pretty Women” (again, I seriously recommend looking up video of this!).

With Ben acting as host we also spent some time watching popular Broadway-related YouTube videos (mostly Tony Awards Performances). I actually found this to be a lot of fun because you knew that the majority of the people in that room (myself included) spend  time watching those and similar videos anyway, so to be in a room where we were all singing along and just having a good time was a lot of fun. And it was made all the better with Ben’s hosting skills!

The some of the craziest and most unexpected moments of the day came when Anthony Rapp, Melissa Anelli, David Alpert, Blake Ross, and Michael Riedel took to the MainStage for what was called the “BroadwayCon Party Line.” They then proceeded to call their various Broadway contacts and put them on speaker phone. People including: Darren Criss, Idina Menzel, Norm Lewis, Harvey Fierstein, Betty Buckly, Laura Benanti, Patti LuPone (resulting in #senduspizzapatti), Audra McDonald, Lena Hall & Stephen Trask, Ana Gasteyer, Joel Grey, Shanice Williams, Jeremy Jordan (video chat), and Tommy Tune (voicemail). It was incredible! Just to hear so many huge stars, even just on the phone like that, in real time, it’s something I could never have imagined happening!

The night ended with Krysta Rodriguez performing a sort of cabaret with Joe Iconis, Joshua Safran, and Ben Rauhala, singing songs from SmashThe Addams FamilyFirst DateIn the HeightsSpring Awakening (complete with ASL) and more. I learned later that she was only supposed to go on for a little while but ended up performing like an hour long set!

The day might not have turned out how anyone originally planned it but I think it was still an excellent day and I think the unexpectedness of it made it all the more memorable!

9. Day 3 Closing 1

 

BroadwayCon 2016: Part 1

 

Back in January I was fortunate enough to be at the first ever BroadwayCon in New York City! (I mentioned before that I have been to the city 3 times, this was trip #3!) During the trip and in the days following I made some notes on my experiences but haven’t really done anything with them since. Now, since I’ve started this blog, I figure what better place to share BroadwayCon experiences than on a Broadway/Theatre blog?! As I was working on this post however, I realized it was getting to be quite lengthy, so, for all our sakes, I’ve decided to make this a 3-part series of posts (one for each day of BroadwayCon) instead of one long post! This post (Part 1) will cover the day before BroadwayCon and the first day of the convention, next week I’ll cover day 2, and then day 3!

General Trip Info: BroadwayCon took place at the New York Hilton Midtown on January 22-24, 2016. I was in the city from the 21st until the 25th. My father actually came on the trip with me. I had a weekend pass for the convention and he got a day pass for the Saturday. And of course we had to fit in a couple of shows while we were in the city!!

Now on to the good stuff!

January 21st- The Day Before BroadwayCon!

We arrived in the city in the afternoon of the 21st (it was a Thursday), which meant we had gotten there early enough to see a show Thursday night. Our pick? School of Rock (playing at the Winter Garden)! Our tickets were in the 3rd row of the orchestra, which is the closest I’ve ever sat at a Broadway show! (Thank you TKTS!) The show was amazing! And of course, because I’m me, we went to the stage door after the show. Shout out to my tall father who was able to reach over people to get autographs for me! I was really happy to get Sierra Boggess’s autograph because I missed her at the stage door after Phantom  when I saw it in 2014, and I got my picture taken with Alex Brightman, who was very nice, and it was all really exciting! We had dinner after the show then went back to the hotel (we were staying at the Hilton where BroadwayCon was being held), ready for a Broadway-filled weekend!

Day 0 14(Me and Dewey himself, Alex Brightman!)

January 22nd- BroadwayCon Day 1!

This was one time when it was good having a last name that starts with a letter near the end of the alphabet as there was hardly a line in my section for registration! The morning of BroadwayCon Day 1 was filled with meet-ups. I went to one called “Flying Solo: Party of One Meetup” (pretty self-explanatory) and, after that, “Seize the Day!: The Fansies Meetup.” The latter got particularly exciting when Tyler Mount came in and then FaceTimed with Dan DeLuca, who had been Jack Kelly in the touring production of Newsies!

The first panel I went to was “Making Your Own Work” with panelists Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Kate Wetherhead (these two I was particularly excited to see), Kait Kerrigan, Brian Lowdermilk, and Alice Ripley, and moderated by Frank DiLella. Now, almost 4 months later, I don’t remember all of the discussions but I did really enjoy that panel! BroadwayCon was off to a good start!

After spending a lot of time in line, where I also met some really nice people, it was time for the Opening Ceremony!! What an experience! An original musical that ended with a stage full of Broadway stars, including Tommy Tune and Ben Vereen! There is video of the Finale from the Opening on the BroadwayCon YouTube channel and I highly recommend checking it out; even just thinking about it gets the song stuck in my head!

Following the Opening was “History is Happening in Manhattan: The Hamilton Panel.” This panel included Daveed Diggs, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Christopher Jackson, Leslie Odom, Jr., Philippa Soo, and the man himself, Lin-Manuel Miranda; moderated by Blake Ross. Just to be in the same room as that wonderful cast was an amazing experience and then to top it all off I got to be there to see Lin freestyle at the end of it! Incredible!

I basically stayed at the MainStage from the Opening Ceremony (which started at 3:30pm) until the end of the day (about 1am). The next even following Hamilton was called “I Was a Teenage Diva,” during which they showed clips from when various Broadway stars were young and the audience had to guess who it was in the video. The stars would then come out and talk about the clip. It was really a lot of fun! I had actually heard Alex Brightman talking about that particular event the night before at the School of Rock stage door, so I knew his was going to be one of the clips!

I mentioned the Rent panel in last week’s blog, “10,514,880 Minutes: How Do You Measure 20 Years of Rent?“, and it really was one of the highlights of the convention for me! I think it also worked really well having Anthony Rapp act as moderator for the panel. One of my favourite parts was when Daphne Rubin-Vega FaceTimed Jesse L. Martin, who couldn’t be there. They passed around her on the stage and there was a really sweet moment when Jesse saw Wilson Jermaine Heredia. Jonathan Larson’s sister, and Cynthia O’Neal, a founder of Friends In Deed (the real life organization on which some of the Life Support scenes in Rent are based) were also part of the panel. It was so interesting hearing everyone talking about the show, Jonathan Larson, and just their experiences with all of it!

Another of my favourite moments of BroadwayCon actually occurred between MainStage events on Day 1. I was walking back towards the MainStage when I heard music. At first  thought it was just something happening on the stage between panels, but as I continued walking it didn’t sound as though it was coming from the room with the stage, and I noticed that it sounded like Lena Hall. I looked down through one of the circular cut outs in the floor (I don’t really know what else you’d call them) to the floor below and there was Lena Hall playing guitar and singing, sitting on one of the registration tables! It was one of those unexpected moments that could only happen somewhere like that!

11. Day 1 Lena Hall 2

 Following the Rent panel on MainStage was “The BroadwayCon Jukebox,” a wonderful event in which Kerry Butler, Stark Sands, Jenn Colella, Ryann Redmond, Alysha Umphress, Lena Hall, Ben Cameron (who was hosting the Jukebob and quickly became a Con favourite), and Anthony Rapp sang songs voted on by the audience. Highlights include Lena Hall singing “Origin of Love,” Ryann Redmond singing “I Will Always Love You,” and actually basically every song everyone sang! (I did keep track of the full set list, but even with limiting this post to the first two days of the trip, it’s still getting quite long, so I will spare you the full list!) I will say there were a lot of powerhouse voices that night and it was amazing!!!

I final event of the day/night was “Don’t Quit Your Night Job.” Broadway stars (including James Monroe Iglehard, Lesli Margherita, Ali Stroker, Adam Kantor, Ben Rappaport, and more) doing improv, culminating in Anthony Rapp performing a Mad Libs version of “What You Own.” Every part of it was hilarious and it was so much fun seeing the goofy side of the stars involved!

As you can see Day 1 was a busy day, but it was an excellent one! And I’ll see you here next week for BroadwayCon Day 2!

9. Day 3 Closing 1

“‘Cause Everything is Rent”

(It’s another 2 blog posts week!)

Last week was the 20th anniversary of Rent opening on Broadway and I, like so many others, am a huge fan, so I thought I would take the chance to talk about this much-loved show and my experiences with it!

I first experienced Rent after the movie had already been out for a while. I think this was also quite near the beginning of my musical obsession. I remember renting the movie from Roger’s Video, when I was finding out more about musicals and Broadway and watching more movie musicals (something which I’m still always looking to do). I have since lost track of how many times I’ve seen the movie; it is one of my favourite movie musicals, if not my favourite. The “Filmed Live on Broadway” version has also gotten some wear on it. (I also LOVE that there is a “Filmed Live on Broadway” version!!!)

I have been fortunate enough to see Rent live twice, though, unfortunately, never on Broadway. I think the first time I saw it was in 2008 when it played at the Sony Centre in Toronto. (I had to look it up trying to find when it played there and I have to say it’s not really an easy show to google, particularly when you can rent space at the theatre!). The cast of this tour included Jed Resnick as Mark and Heinz Winckler as Roger. I absolutely loved seeing it live! I remember really like the set, with the “Christmas tree” and the use of the space. I’ll admit I did not “moo” with Maureen that time (I was too self-conscious).

The second time I saw the show was when “The Broadway Tour” starring Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal came to the Canon/Ed Mirvish Theatre in Toronto in 2010. Getting to see those two in the roles they had originated, and played in the movie, was an incredible experience and it still makes me happy to think about it. It also still adds a level of excitement to listening to the  cast recordings, both OBC and movie. (And I did “moo” this time, albeit, quietly!)

I remember one particular moment that hit me the first time I saw Rent liveIt was during “Life Support” at the line “because reason says I should’ve died three years ago.” In the movie as Gordon is singing and you can hear another voice come in for that line, but I didn’t really understand why. Onstage, though, while Gordon is singing, it’s Roger who joins in for that line; you see him onstage join in. Suddenly that “random” voice in the movie made more sense and it made that line/scene hit even harder because I hadn’t been expecting it. It still gets me pretty much every time, that and the end of “Contact” with everyone saying, “It’s over,” and Collins’s final, “It’s over.”

I love both the movie and the live production and I do feel that, as far as movie adaptations go, Rent is pretty darn good, especially when it comes to casting! I do wish they had kept the second half of “Goodbye Love” in the movie though. At least it’s in the deleted scenes! I also really enjoy “Christmas Bells” in the musical, but I can understand why it’s excluded from the movie.

The more I’ve learned about Rent and Jonathan Larson, the more love and respect I have for it and him and everything the show and its writer have done. I still love learning new things about the show and everyone involved with it.

This show (especially the movie) introduced me to so many more excellent actors as well, such as Anthony Rapp. I even went on to read his book/autobiography Without You and saw his one-man show of the same title, based on the book, when it came to Toronto as part of the “Off-Mirvish” season a few years ago. I love how each new musical opens up this whole world of possibilities, even from the fan perspective, like inspiring you to look up other things the actors have done, other things the creative team have done, and opening your mind up to different styles of musical theatre or theatre in general.

In January of this year, I attended BroadwayCon (there will likely be a post coming up about this whole event in the near future) and there was a Rent anniversary panel, “10,514,880 Minutes: How Do You Measure 20 Years of Rent?”. The panel included Anthony Rapp (who also acted as moderator), Daphne Rubin-Vega, Wilson Jermaine Heredia, Rodney Hicks, Fredi Walker-Browne, Aiko Nakasone, Barnard Telsey, Marlies Yearby, James C. Nicola, Julie Larson McCollum, and Cynthia O’Neal. It was one of the highlights of the convention for me! And then Daphne called Jesse L. Martin via FaceTime and it was wonderful! Hearing all of those people talk about the show- their connections to it, how they became involved, sharing stories about the show and Jonathan- it was amazing! Rent has meant so much to so many people, those who have been involved with the show and it’s various incarnations over the years and the fans, for the 20 years now. It was so cool to be in a room with with people who were there from the beginning and filled with I don’t even know how many fans! I’m so glad I got to be there for that! It’s certainly an experience I won’t forget!

Rent really did make a huge impact on the industry. Hearing how the show and Jonathan Larson have influenced other successful shows and people in the industry, like Lin Manuel Miranda for instance, it shows the power that musicals and the theatre can, and do, have. Rent opened up so many more possibilities for the world of musical theatre and I think we can all be grateful for that!

Thank you Jonathan Larson.

No Day But Today!

Rent Stuff

Theatre Awards Shows (Part 2): Let’s Talk Tony Nominations

Yes, I did get up to watch the stream of the Tony Awards nominations this morning. This is the second year I’ve watched the nominations live. I find Tony season really exciting (this blog has clearly already established that I’m a theatre nerd, so this shouldn’t come as a surprise) and seeing the nominations is part of that!

I don’t feel I can really comment too much when it comes to the specific shows because I’ve only actually seen one of them (School of Rock), though it does make me really excited knowing that I have actually seen one of the shows before it was Tony nominated! I have watched clips and listened to cast recordings but I’m still not familiar with all of the shows. So I’m not really going to pass judgement on what should/shouldn’t be nominated.  I will also say, I know a lot less about the plays than the musicals, so I won’t really be commenting on them. I mainly just want to take a moment to talk about what I’m excited about this Tony season!

I have some mixed feelings this season because, from what I’ve seen in clips and heard talk about, there seem to be so many good shows. It definitely seems, though, like it’s going to be Hamilton‘s year, something made all the more clear with its 16 NOMINATIONS (and of course it broke another record)! That leads to my “problem” because I want Hamilton to win. I love the cast recording, I think Lin is incredibly talented and it just seems like an amazing production. BUT that leaves all the other amazing shows this season, that I would love to see win, and probably would win if they weren’t against Hamilton. So really, the problem is that there are just too many good options!

Looking back through the lists of nominees after the announcement I did notice that Hamilton is nominated in every musical category except revival, which pretty cool. I do think it will be a tight race in some of the categories and even if it’s a Hamilton sweep I think there’s still a chance for the other shows to hold their own. There is so much talent in this Broadway season, as there is every season, but there just seems to be something about this season! It’s all very exciting!

I am really excited for School of Rock and Spring Awakening. Prior to the announcement I had really wanted Alex Brightman, who plays Dewey Finn in School of Rock  to be nominated, and I’m SO GLAD he was. He gives an incredible performance as Dewey and it makes me so happy to see him recognized for it! From everything I heard and saw, the Deaf West production of Spring Awakening looked stunning, and I really wanted them to get to perform on the Tonys because for one thing I wanted to see them perform, but I also wanted it for them. Now I’m so excited that they’ve been nominated for Best Revival and that Michael Arden is nominated for Best Director!

Some of the other actors/actresses I’m really happy to see nominated (though this has more to do with the performers themselves, rather these specific performances with which I am less familiar) include Zachary Levi (Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role in a Musical- She Loves Me), Megan Hilty (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Play- Noises Off, Adrienne Warren (Best Performance by an Actress in a Featured Role in a Musical-Shuffle Along) and Laura Benanti (Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Musical- She Loves Me). I’m also excited for all of the Waitress nominations and of course Hamilton.

I am kind of surprised that Tuck Everlasting didn’t get more nominations, aside from Best Costume Design, as I’ve only been hearing good things about it.

(And I still think they should  bring back the Sound Design Tony.)

I will say, now, after hearing the nominations, I’m even more looking forward to all of the performances that will be part of the Tony broadcast this year and can’t wait to see which songs will be performed!! I think I’m going to be spending a lot of time over the next little while watching a lot of show clips and listening to cast recordings getting ready for the big day! (not that that’s really any different from how I usually spend my time!)

Congratulations to all of the nominees! I can’t wait for June 12th to see who’s going to win (besides Hamilton)!

 

The Show That Changed My Life

I think it’s a common thing when you’re a theatre fan to have that one show, or perhaps shows, that lit the spark that ignited your passion for the theatre. The show that led you to where you are, whether working in the theatre or just a straight up fan (like me). For me that show was the Mirvish production of We Will Rock You in Toronto.

For those of you who don’t know We Will Rock You is a musical that originated in London that uses the music of Queen, with a book written by Ben Elton. It is set in a future where rock music has been eliminated and creativity and individuality are outlawed. A group of rebels (the Bohemians) are searching for the lost rock with the help of Galileo (“The Dreamer”) and Scaramouche. (It’s really not as ridiculous as it sounds!!) It’s a show full of references, both pop culture and classic rock. The promotional video for the Toronto production can still be found on YouTube (I watched it earlier today!). I can’t tell you how many times I watched that video and I can still quote it along with the clips!

As I mentioned in my “Theatre Facts About Me” post earlier this week, I have seen We Will Rock You six times. I saw the show for the first time in 2007 on a trip to Toronto with my parents. We were already planning a trip that included going to see the Titanic exhibit that was at the Science Centre then one night before the trip we were watching Canadian Idol- yes, we were a household that watched Canadian Idol- and there was a performance by Yvan Pedneault, who played Galileo in We Will Rock You. My parents had already seen and liked the show and after watching that episode of Canadian Idol we decided to add the show to our trip!

We Will Rock You was playing at the Canon Theatre, which is now the Ed Mirvish Theatre, and I had never seen anything like it before in my life! I left the theatre feeling so happy and excited! It was exhilarating! As soon as I left the theatre I wanted to see it again and I’m pretty sure I listened to the London cast recording on my discman when we got back to the hotel after the show. (Canadian Idol and a discman, things have really changed in 9 years!) Luckily I have an aunt and uncle who were also fans of the show and I got to see it a second time that same summer with them! As you can see I didn’t waste any time in developing my obsession with this show (and theatre in general)! We Will Rock You kept getting extended at the Canon Theatre and then ended up moving to the Panasonic Theatre, where I saw it another two times!

I went to school in England for my first year of university and after first semester exams and before flying home for Christmas I decided to take a solo day trip to London to see a couple of West End shows. At the top of my list? We Will Rock You of course! The show originated in London, so of course I had to see there when I had the chance! Again I loved it, though I think I preferred the Toronto version, but that could also be because I was so used to the Toronto production and it meant so much to me.

The last time I saw the show was in 2014 when the North American tour had a stop in Toronto at the Ed Mirvish Theatre. Again, of course I had to see it!  It was also cool because Erica Peck, who had been Scaramouche in the Toronto production played Oz in the tour. It was sort of a full circle moment because 7 years later I got to see the show at the same theatre at which I saw it for the first time and this was also the year I graduated from university as a Drama major.

Having seen it so many times it was fun to see how the references in the show changed over time and to see the differences between the Toronto and London productions. I am still kind of surprised that the show never made the transition to Broadway.

It’s really because of We Will Rock You that I became interested in the musical theatre/Broadway world. Seeing the show opened up this whole new, wonderful world for me and I’ve never looked back. I saw other shows because cast members from We Will Rock You were in them (The Boys in the Photograph, for example) and I became more aware of the theatre scene in Toronto and New York. Not only did my interest in seeing theatre grow from my We Will Rock You experience, my interest in learning about and eventually creating theatre grew from it too. In high school I had not been interested in taking Drama; I took it in grade 9 Drama because I had to as it was combined with visual art, which I did want to take. But then We Will Rock You happened and my interest piqued. My high school didn’t have a lot of options by way of theatrical productions but every other year it offered a music theatre class in which the class writes and performs a jukebox musical, a class which I took in grade 12. I then went on to study Drama at university where I got to fall even more in love with the theatre, this time with a focus on the production side of things!

I do wish I had known at the time about the phenomenon that is stagedoor-ing. I would see pictures online of fans with the cast but I didn’t know how they did it! After one performance my aunt did get to meet Yvan Pedneault (who played Galileo) as she was waiting for her ride. My parents and I had seen the show with her that night but we had already gone back to our hotel. She had tried to call my dad’s cell to get us to come back, but it was still off from seeing the show! I was so close! But she did get his autograph for me, which I still have in a frame! Actually, if I ever get the chance, I would still love to meet anyone from that cast!

Even if I never do meet them and even if they never see this I do want to thank Mirvish and the Toronto company of We Will Rock You for the world they introduced to me! To Yvan Pedneault, Erica Peck, Valerie Stanois, Sterling Jarvis, Alana Bridgewater, Evan Buliung, and the rest of the cast and crew, THANK YOU!
I probably wouldn’t be where I am today without them and this show!
(Also thank you to my parents and aunt and uncle for supporting/enabling my fanatacism, I am forever grateful!)

We Will Rock You introduced me to what the theatre can do and what it can be. It also proves that the theatre really can change lives! Seeing this show remains to this day one of my all time favourite theatrical memories and it will always hold a special place in my theatre-filled heart!

IMG_1495