Miss Saigon 25th Anniversary Screening

Trevor: This wasn’t live theater. It was one of those live theater broadcasts that they have at the movie theater. I liked the idea of them, but was skeptical. It doesn’t beat a live experience, but it is definitely worth seeing a show that would be very difficult to attend unless one lives in London or NYC and has a lot of money.

Miss Saigon is from the same creative team as Les Mis, and I am not a fan of sing-throughs (let’s get some dialogue please). I wasn’t familiar with the story, but when the screening started I was sucked in. Everyone in the audience was super excited and applauding after numbers. Jerusha was squeezing my leg and squirming with excitement over special guest appearances. I totally fell in love with it and can’t wait to see something else at the movie theater.  Here is a link of shows that are coming to a theater(hopefully) near you!

Jerusha: I first saw Miss Saigon at the Starlight Bowl in San Diego, with my mom and sister. We bawled like babies. Tonight’s screening was magical for me! I’m a sucker for anniversary reunions, so the bonus performances by the original cast members was extra special!

Parade (Panic! Productions)

I caught a performance of Parade on a Sunday afternoon. First of all, I have had some pretty entertaining experiences at Hillcrest matinees…such as elderly folks literally physically fighting over seats. Alas, no such shenanigans occurred this time 😉

I was not familiar with the music of Parade prior to my viewing on Sunday. I can now say, it is NOT one of my favorite JRB shows. It is so depressing! And while I was hopeful that the music would inspire me since they did I have a live band, I was not impressed! It’s hard to tell if it was the piece that I really didn’t like, or the community theatre feel of the performance. Not to knock Panic! Productions! I have seen some great stuff from them! My dear friend Alisa is always one of their shining stars (which is why I go ;)), but I can say without bias that in the past I have enjoyed Panic!’s shows. It was disappointing to me that Parade was the exception.

That being said, the set design was clever, the costumes were beautiful, and I enjoyed the choreography. Looking forward to the next Panic! show!

-Jerusha

Barbecue (Geffen)

I had no idea what to expect from Barbecue written by Robert O’Hara. I knew that it was a comedy that played in New York and had a twist so big that they didn’t hand out programs until intermission. The Geffen did hand out programs which is a HUGE MISTAKE!! If you go, do not look at the program before the show!!! Even though I think the Geffen messed up on the programs, everything else was PHENOMENAL!!!

Barbecue is everything that I love about theater. It is highly entertaining, has a message, and makes you think. The comedy is so vibrant and Colman Domingo does an outstanding job with his talented cast. The performances that he elicits are hilarious and over-the -top, but still have the grounding to make it believable. Robert O’Hara has a refreshing play that does something I have never seen before.

I don’t want to give anything away, but after the big twist, there are additional reveals and turns that will have you frequently surprised. The only knocks are that some people might be offended by the language (O’Hara’s pre-show announcement was PERFECT and set the tone of the show). Also, I can see the Pasadena Playhouse or CTG doing this show, but I don’t know if it fits the Geffen. There were some people in the older age bracket that left at intermission. I have seen this at multiple Geffen productions – patrons leaving during the show or at intermission. This usually happens at Geffen shows with strong language. If those patrons had stayed, they would have learned not to judge based on first impressions. There is a rich and compelling story within everyone, but a majority of the time we miss it because we judge or assume we already know. Randall Arney didn’t judge, and I applaud him for bringing this story to the Geffen (but please tell the ushers not to hand out programs)!

-Trevor

 

ALL THE WAY (SOUTH COAST REP)

On Wednesday, we caught a 7:30pm performance of “All The Way”, by Robert Schenkkan. First of all, we have to stop seeing weeknight performances at South Coast Rep – the traffic on the drive down was horrendous.

Traffic aside, I enjoyed “All The Way”. Set in 1963, the Tony-Award-winning Broadway hit depicts LBJ’s takeover as President after the Kennedy assassination, and his campaign for re-election. Set against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement, the political drama features famous historical leaders and moments. Hugo Armstrong really gives LBJ a beautifully fleshed-out character, and the rest of the ensemble cast is strong as well. I wasn’t a huge fan of the staging, but that could have been because we were in the first row on the side (looking up). One warning though – this play is LONG. 3 hours without the intermission. The curtain was 7:30pm and we weren’t headed home until 11pm – not ideal on a hump-day evening. As always, South Coast Rep delivers with high-caliber production value and casting. It was an enjoyable evening, although not one of my all-time favorites.

– Jerusha