“Luck Be A Lady Tonight…”

Last night, we went to the Muny Opera to see the musical Guys and Dolls. For those unfamiliar with the Muny: it is a gigantic outdoor theatre in Forest Park—the closest Los Angeles analogue would be the Greek Theatre or Hollywood Bowl, except that the Muny is (a) locally run, and (b) presents only musicals. The theatre, which according to the program seats 11,000, presents six musicals each summer. The last time I was at the Muny was in 1987, when I saw Big River; I also seem to recall seeing Desert Song at the Muny with my parents, probably in 1979.

Last night was Guys and Dolls, which is gf_guruilla‘s absolutely favorite show. The production was supurb. Sky Masterson was played by Jeff McCarthy, who played Officer Lockstock in Urinetown in New York and Los Angeles (my review). Sarah Brown was played by Catherine Brunell, part of the original cast of Millie. Nathan was Bruce Adler, a Muny regular who was on Broadway in Crazy for You. Miss Adelaide was played by Stacy Logan, another Broadway veteran from Sweet Smell of Success and Crazy for You (she can be seen on the PBS version). From this, you should get the idea that the cast was top-notch. The performance was top-notch as well; all three of us were thoroughly entertained. About my only comment performance-wise was that I kept seeing Officer Lockstock in Jeff McCarthy’s performance (which made the musical even more funny). The performances were great, the orchestra was great, the sets were great, the sound and mic-ing was great (which is rare on an opening night)… even the parking was great (and free—find that in LA!). About the only flaw was the air conditioning system. Recall: this was outdoor in St Louis in summer: thus, the temperature hovered between 80° and 90° with 80% humidity. Schvitz-city—we were limp by the end of the overture. We got home around 12:00 AM and were asleep by 1:00 AM.

One other observation about St. Louis so far: The people in this city are the friendliest folks I have ever met. If it wasn’t for the weather, we could see ourselves living here.

OB Roadgeekiness: One thing we had to drive through yesterday was the interchange at Olive Street Road (yes, that’s its name) and I-270. This is a SPUI (Single-Point Urban Interchange, for the non-roadgeeks). It was my first time driving a SPUI, and although I can see the economy, I found it a bit disconcerting.

Today’s agenda is to go visit Hannibal MO, which is about a 2 hour drive north of here. This is the boyhood home of Mark Twain, about whom Small and Feisty will be studying next year. In the evening, we’ll get together with our friend Linda and do laundry.


West Side Story

Yesterday afternoon, my family (together with ellipticcurve, ixixlix, and the Karate Kid) went to see West Side Story at Cabrillo Music Theatre in Thousand Oaks. An excellent production, marred only by my worring about my wife who was fighting a killer headache resulting from one of the boards on the bottom of my daughter’s bunk bed falling off and hitting her head the night before (of course, me being who I am, thought she was mad at me). Back to WSS: they had excellent actors playing Tony and Maria (although I do get annoyed by overtly Christian references in actors’ bios), and the stage design was excellent. There were a few technical glitches—these are normally worked out for our subscription slot, but we moved up a week so we were actually seeing the 3rd performance. In any case, it was well worth the $11/ticket, and we got to expose our daughter to a classic story.

This morning ellipticcurve and I will put together a new bed for my daughter (to get rid of that misbehaving board), and then the ladies (gf_guruilla, Small & Feisty, and ellipticcurve) will go out to hit the last stores in the Quilters Run, while I start getting the packing together for our vacation next week.

Lastly, thanks to ixixlix for an excellent dinner and game of Ticket to Ride last night.

P.S.: A number of folks have pointed me to This Land Is Your Land, a Kerry/Bush parody that is hilarious.

P.P.S.: The music is a song that was cut from West Side Story. The Lost in Boston series from Varese Sarabande Records is a series of CDs where each CD is a collection of songs cut from musicals during tryouts.


Observations on the News 2004-07-09

Bleh. I woke up this morning with a cough (probably a lingering effect from last week’s cold) that just doesn’t want to go completely away. It’s there at the edge of consciousness, tickling my throat, daring me to wake it up again. But I’ll be smart. I’ll use my Gigantic-Mug-O-Tea™ to keep it wet until I can get safely home and pummel it to death with Benydryl.

As I haven’t done news observations in a bit…

Observations on the News

Right to complain about ex-spouse protected. Evidently, the husband in a divorce case tried to get a gag order against his wife, so that she couldn’t badmouth him. The court, quite reasonably, viewed this as an impingment on her right to free speech. It’s nice to know that justice works sometimes.

‘Kerry Edwards’ Site Belongs to Bondsman. It seems the web site www.kerryedwards.com belongs to a bail bondsman, who pays $25 a year for the site. Naturally, since this weeks announcement, folks have come calling, including GOP folks who want to keep it out of the Democrat’s hands. Mr. Edwards has indicated he will offer the site on eBay.

From the why-o-why department: Spidey suited for stage. Variety is reporting that Tony Adams and Marvel Comics are looking to turn Spiderman into a musical. The plans, according to the article, is to have a book by Neil Jordan (“The Crying Game”), Music by Bono and the Edge of U2, with Julie Taymor (“Lion King”) directing. Color me less than excited.

I’m much more interested in going to see Spamalot, a musicalized version of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Spamalot is planning to feature David Hyde Pierce (“Frasier”) as Sir Robin, Tim Curry (you name it) as King Arthur, and Hank Azaria (“Simpsons”) as Sir Lancelot. Originally, it was thought that Spamalot would hit Broadway the same time as a revival of Camelot; however, Eric Idle dismissed the confusion, stating “Surely only an idiot could confuse ‘Camelot’ and ‘Spamalot’ “. Spamalot will be directed by Mike Nichols, who last directed “The Apple Tree” (Bock/Harnick) in 1966. The book will be by Eric Idle (Monty Python), who collaborated on the music and lyrics with John Du Prez (“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles”, “A Fish Called Wanda.”). Spamalot begins Broadway previews in early February 2005, so I’d expect to see it hit Los Angeles in 2007 or late 2006.


Upcoming Musicals

Whilst scanning the news headlines during a break from typing in comments on a document, I ran across this review of 110 in the Shade, the next play we’ll be seeing at the Pasadena Playhouse. A favorable review. I’m looking forward to seeing this musical; the playhouse hasn’t done a musical in a while (I think the last one was Showtune (the Music of Jerry Herman) back in July 2003 (I don’t count Plaid Tidings, as it had been done the year before). We’ll be seeing it on July 17th, after having a day of gaming at Games Day 17 in Burbank.

I’ll also note that Yahoo!News is reporting that the Pittsburgh CLO is planning to remount Doctor Doolittle as a stage musical (this is the one with music by Leslie Bricusse, that was on the screen with Rex Harrison in the title role, and also starring Anthony Newley). They are planning on taking this on tour. I’m not sure this is a good move. Although the music was tolerable, there wasn’t enough of it—and the plot was piss-poor. I’m not sure audiences of today would accept a plot that was weak in the 1960s when the movie came out. Pass.


Everything Today Is Thoroughly Modern… Sort Of…

Today, we went to go see Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Ahmanson. It didn’t leave me as excited as other musicals or plays have. Yes, the dancing and the music was great. However, the show had a number of problems:

  • The plot was, shall we say, stupid. You needed to disengage your brain, unlike Urinetown. It didn’t even have a message like Hairspray. This is mostly the fault of the movie they started with—they were stuck with the white slavery plotline. They tried to recover, but it was just silly.
  • Much as the actress playing Millie (Darcie Roberts) could sing and dance the part, she just didn’t have the right ingénue look.

There were some good parts—in particular, Pamela Isaacs was great as “Muzzy”, and Diana Kaarina was great as “Miss Dorothy”. I also noticed an increased trend as a result of the Internet: quite a few of the cast listed their websites in their biographies!

This is a summer for musicals for us:

One additional observation. As we were walking up to the Ahmanson, my wife and I were commenting on the number of original Music Center sponsors that are gone: Security Pacific National Bank, Litton Corporation, TRW, Hughes Aircraft, Teledyne Systems; Carter Hawley Hale; and others. All of these are no longer around to support the arts in Los Angeles. Who has filled their shoes?


From The “Going Back To The Well” Department…

Yahoo!News is reporting that Legally Blonde – The Musical is being written by composer Laurence O’Keefe, lyricist Nell Benjamin and librettist Heather Hach. This comes on the heels of an announcement that Legally Blonde is also being worked up for television syndication. Of course, according the reviews, Legally Blonde 2 was a flop (although the original was good).

Why? Oh, why?

Why can’t we come up with original ideas. Why must we keep going back to the same story lines and keep reinventing things. Although sometimes this works (The Producers, Hairspray), othertimes, it doesn’t (need I mention Carrie–The Musical or Gone With The Wind – The Musical). And even in the case of The Producers and Hairspray, they are now talking about making remakes of the movies (Producers, Hairspray) based on the musical. Well, if it worked for Little Shop of Horrors

And it is not just Broadway/TV. I did a geeklist on BoardGameGeek regarding this problem in games, especially those from Steve Jackson. Of course, it is Steve Jackson that gave us not only Munchkin and two expansions (Unnatural Axe and Clerical Errors), but Star Munchkin (and one expansion, Clown Wars), Munchkin Fu… and who recently announced Munchkin Bites and Munchkin Blender. Of course, these are all basically the same game rethemed, but people don’t notice that. He’s also done Chez Geek 1 2 3, Chez Grunt, Chez Greek, and this year, Chez Goth.

Have we used up all the original ideas, or have we just lost the ability to think critically?



Damn! According to an article in the NY Times [registration required], the producers of Avenue Q have eschewed the traditional tour to instead play in Las Vegas. Quoting from the article:

Working with the Las Vegas impressario Steve Wynn, the producers of “Q” plan to open around Labor Day 2005 in a new $40-million theater built especially for the show. The production had planned to follow the lucrative tradition of touring nationally, hitting major markets like Chicago, Atlanta and Los Angeles. Now those plans have been scrapped in favor of an extended, and exclusive, stay on the Las Vegas Strip.

One of those potentially most affected is the giant media company Clear Channel Communications, which owns dozens of theaters around the country and sells subscriptions of touring shows. Reached late yesterday afternoon, Scott Zeiger, the chief executive of Clear Channel’s theatrical division, which is a minority investor in “Avenue Q,” admitted that the possibility that there would not be a tour would be a disappointment for “the road presenters around the country.” Also left out of the deal is the Shubert Organization, the largest Broadway theater owner, whose Golden Theater is the current home of “Avenue Q,” and whose theaters in other cities could well have figured in any tour.

This information is not yet confirmed on the Avenue Q website.

If it turns out to be true… damn, damn, damn. This is a brilliant show, and one that I want to see. I don’t want to have to travel to Vegas just to do so. I think this disenfranchises the millions of theatre lovers who don’t have easy access to Las Vegas or New York — what is someone in New Orleans, Denver, or Chicago to do? They do provide a contact email on their site, so I’ll write the producers and urge them to bring the show to the major markets. I’ll note that it is being discussed a little in the Avenue Q Forums; I expect to see more discussions as the word spreads.

There are shows that belong in Vegas: for example, I’ve always pictured The Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public as a Vegas show. But bring Avenue Q to Los Angeles!