Friday, August 10, 2018

A Broadway Trio

The Play That Goes Wrong Set
Because I'm not so great at planning, I somehow managed to book two trips to New York within 5 days of each other. During these trips, I saw four fantastic and fabulous Broadway shows (one of which is so awesome, it deserves its own post which will be up later this week...) It was a pretty wonderful theatre week if I do say so myself.

The Play that Goes Wrong

I've been dying to see this mad-cap farce for months now but for one reason or another, I never got around to it. But when they announced that they were closing, it became required viewing. The show is as funny - probably funnier - as all the reviews say.

When you enter a theater, and the main actors are wandering the theater asking the audience if they’ve seen “a small dog named Winston” and welcoming them to “Cornley College”, you know you’re in for a good time. From start to finish, every single portion of the show is fabulously choreographed to bring the maximum number of laughs. I’ve truly never laughed as hard or as continuously as I did during this production.

The actors are playing serious actors in the middle of comedic madness. So not only do they need to play it straight, but they must also act surprised when everything goes wrong. It takes comedic mastery for sure. Mark Evans, who I fell for in Me & My Girl, played the director of the piece, as well as the lead actor who is playing the Detective Inspector investigating the murder. His annoyance at every one of his castmates and his reactions to each mishap brought all the laughs. (At one point, I laughed  so loudly while no one else was laughing, I turned all sorts of red…)

Sadly, this fantastic show will be closing soon, but luckily, it’s earned its US tour. While most plays go a bit deep and emotional, this beyond laugh out loud funny production is the perfect antidote for the dog days of summer (or any of the other seasons as well…)


Yes, I’ve seen this show twice already. Yes, I sorta hated it the first time I saw it. No, I don’t usually see shows I’m not in love with multiple times. But here’s the thing. I love me some Erich Bergen, and I’m pretty smitten with the character of Dr. Pomatter, and when you mix the two, I get kinda giddy. Bergen is as spectacular in the part as I thought he’d be. His nervous but sweet Dr. Pomatter has the perfect chemistry with Katherine McPhee’s Jenna (who I liked a bit more this time around.) Katie Lowes and her husband Adam Shapiro were also pretty wonderful as Dawn and her love Ogie.

Upon third viewing, I must say the show has changed a bit for me. I still hate Earl (Jenna’s awful husband). He’s a terribly written character with absolutely no redeeming qualities. However, the show holds up. It may not be appropriate for young girls (as it’s marketed) but it is a fun production for a girl's weekend. It boasts an impressive lineup so if the powers that be can continue drawing talented and lovely people, I think it will continue to do well. Though I’m still annoyed that other better shows have failed while this one is still hanging on…

Pretty Woman

I’m still on the fence about shows that are based on movies. While Groundhog Day was fabulous, Mean Girls was less than perfect. I can’t decide if they’re a good idea or purely a way to make money. This goes especially for such classics like Pretty Woman. However, Andy Karl and Orfeh were enough of a draw for me to give it a try. While also not perfect, it is pretty fantastic. The songs are a wee bit corny. In my opinion they went a little too far into the 80s pop-rock sound. But the chemistry between Samantha Barks and Andy Karl is as close to that of Julia Roberts and Richard Gere as one would hope. I also think that will be their major flaw. While wonderfully charming and a heck of a singer, Barks is not Julia Roberts.

Though if audiences can get past that, there’s a lot to like. The musical includes many of audience’s favorite scenes such as the bathtub scene and the couple’s evening at the opera. It’s fun to see how these iconic moments translated to the stage. While most of it is a rehash of the movie, there are a few new surprises that I won’t ruin here, but rest assured they appear. One specific moment may have been unscripted. As the show is still in previews, Andy Karl may have added his own flair to the finale. It was hard to tell if his giggling fit was caused by a new on the spot addition or if he just thought the bit was a little too ludicrous. (I’d love to hear from someone seeing it after opening to discuss…) The supporting cast is also fantastic. Each and every time I hear Orfeh sing, I can’t get over her beyond amazing voice. I cannot believe she’s not a bigger star than she is. She deserves a showcase production where she can stand directly in the spotlight. Jason Danieley is also lovely – however, he’s much too lovely to be saddled playing Edward’s awful lawyer. Though he manages to carry the character’s sleaziness throughout the show admirably. Also, Eric Anderson is a knockout. I loved each moment he is on stage. He has that same twinkle in his eye that Hector Elizondo brought to the movie.

There’s a lot to like about the production. But while the show is still in previews, it’s hard to say how audiences and critics will react. I assume it will stick around for a bit thanks to the unbelievable talent on the stage. I only wish the writers had been a bit more creative with their adaptation. If I wanted to see every scene from the movie, I’d just watch the movie. It’s cheaper.

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