Tag Archives: musical

Some ideas about “The Last Five Years”

Drew and I went to see The Last Five Years at ACT in San Francisco. They did it as a concert, which I am now convinced is the way this show should always be done. I’ve seen I think 6 productions of The Last Five Years, and with the exception of this most recent one, they’ve all tried to stage every scene. And (I know I may be biased but) Drew’s version from college is the only one that accomplished staging it with any sort of panache.

If you don’t know the show, it’s almost entirely music. It’s the story of a five-year relationship between a man and a woman, only she tells her story going from the end of the relationship backwards, and he starts at the beginning and moves forward. The music is incredible, and even though the concept (love gained and lost) is simple, it’s well done.

Since they are almost never in each other’s stories, they are technically always in different spaces, even when sharing the stage. And it just makes the physicality difficult, especially later in the play. I think it is actually a lot cleaner to just put the actors onstage and let them sing in front of microphones, rather than worry about creating the visual world for the audience. We’ll get there on our own with just the actors and the music, I promise. We certainly did with just the talented actors and musicians at ACT.

But! I had two thoughts during this production that I found really interesting.

*Spoilers follow*

The first is that, from the beginning of the evening, I decided I was going to go through the play as Team Jamie. I am always on Cathy’s side, I always find her more sympathetic. So I wanted to really commit to going on his journey. And I did. I was right there with him until he cheats on her. And then all my sympathy goes out the window. So maybe there is a legit reason I’ve been Team Cathy all these years, and it’s not just because I like her songs better.

The second thing is just a conceptual idea. While watching this time, it occurred to me that they very specifically give you Jamie’s age at the beginning and end of the play: this five years spans his life from age 23 to 28. But Cathy’s age is never mentioned. I’ve always assumed she was the same age, but…what if she starts the play at age 30? So then: that’s why his mom doesn’t like her (it’s not just the fact that she’s not Jewish). It’s also why she feels so much pressure to succeed, and so much resentment when her 23-year-old boyfriend is succeeding and she’s not. She also mentions having kids a couple times, and I know that people can think about that at any age, but it becomes more poignant to me if she’s, you know, 33 and feeling pressure about it, while he’s 26 and it’s not on his mind. I’m not saying this is necessarily the way it’s written, but I think it would be a really interesting choice to make in a specific production of the show. It would add an interesting dimension.

All that aside, I still love this show as much as I did in college. And I’m so glad we went and saw it last weekend. I would tell you to go, but it was just a three-nights-only event, and it’s taken me too long to get around to saying, “Go see it.” My bad! I will burn you a copy of the original off-Bway cast recording to make up for it.

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Filed under Drew, Love, Music, Sentiment, Theatre

Disney Project 2014: Beauty and the Beast

Movie: Beauty and the Beast

Release year: 1991

My reaction: This rounds out my top 4 favorite Disney movies: Sleeping Beauty, Lady and the Tramp, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast. Drew and I started in on the plot holes and inconsistencies…and then I cut him off and was like, “But for reals, this is one of the best ones, RIGHT.” I could watch this movie over and over again. And should. Because I missed huge chunks of this one. Like most of the end.

I did drag B back into the living room to watch the Beast transform. Because you gotta watch that part.

I remember watching this movie with my mom when I was…I must have been like 8 years old. And he turns into the prince, and I remember my mom and I were both like, “…Ew. Can he turn back into a beast please?” Which is funny. It’s also funny that now I totally think he’s cute. If I was Belle, I would be like, Score.

Also, what with all the fan theories going around right now about Frozen/Tangled/Little Mermaid/Tarzan (which I think is dumb, btw), Drew and I have a new theory to propose. You know how at the very very beginning (before the stained glass), you see Bambi’s mom drinking from the stream in the forest outside the castle? That’s because she didn’t die when the hunter shot her. She got away and moved to France.

photo (24)

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Filed under Children, Drew, Movies

Bring It On: The Musical

Last night Drew and I went to see Bring It On – the musical with the same title of, but not based on, the movie. It’s at the Orpheum Theatre in San Francisco, which has an awesome ceiling.

I have been equating Bring It On with Legally Blonde – both fluffy musicals about blonde girls with more depth than it first appears. I mean, that’s what I assumed.

Here’s what I have to say about the show:

I liked it. The music and lyrics were co-written by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who did In the Heights, which is one of my top 5 all time favorite shows. The direction and choreography (some of which was truly amazing) is by Andy Blankenbuehler, who also did the choreography for In the Heights. I was fascinated by some of the cheerleading stunts. I laughed at jokes. I enjoyed the songs. I understand that I’m not supposed to take any existential meaning from it. I would fully recommend the show to…anyone. I want the cast recording (which apparently doesn’t exist as of yet).

But.

Last night was the press opening (which we didn’t know) and they had papered the house with high school students. In the mezzanine there was a large group of students chanting and cheering before the show started. Right after 8:00 (the show started about 10 minutes late) a group of like 8 14-year-olds girls (and one androgynous 14-year-old) came in and sat down in the seats next to us. Here’s what I have to say about them:

I don’t think there was one moment that they all had their phones closed. They were constantly checking their phones, needing to fish things out of plastic bags wrapped in other plastic bags, bouncing in their seats and looking down into the mezz, and – the worst of all – straight up talking to each other.

After the first five minutes or so of this, Drew and I staringly got their attention and it might be true that I slashed my finger across my throat and said “KNOCK IT OFF” in a loud whisper. I spent the next five minutes worried that it was too harsh, but I needn’t have worried. They didn’t care. They continued to talk through the entire 2 and a half hour show.

At intermission and after the show, Drew and I were ranting about them, and as we calmed down he wondered whether we were just annoyed too easily. After all, all kinds of things are annoying: the car in front of us in line bouncing on their brake lights, the ushers’ lackadaisical, “Hey, no pictures…we just have a couple rules” as he walks away.

But I think no. I think that there are little everyday annoyances that you go, “This is so frustrating!” and then get over. And then there are the rude, unchaperoned, socially-unaware teenagers who literally don’t care that you’re sitting next to them staring at them because they are having a conversation during a show. A show that we a lot of people around them paid a lot of money to see.

On the way home, Drew and I vowed that our children will never behave that way. Because we will kill them if they do.

So okay. So Bring It On was great. But teenagers are not. But if you’re in SF and contemplating it – go see it! Super fun.

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Filed under "Other people", Children, Drew, Not awesome, Theatre