Monday, November 23, 2009

Theatrical Reviews!

....And I am telling you I keep going! Saw a lot of theatre this weekend, mostly thanks to my friend Brandon who can't get enough!

Dreamgirls...at the Apollo! Chester Gregory as James "Thunder" Early was awesome, and wow, what an Effie! Moya Angela knocks it out of the park as the indomitable headstrong, hurting ex-Dream. The rest of the production felt like a national tour (I am sure it's about to become one), and I wasn't wild about the costumes, the panel set, or the new song "Listen" (from the film version) which they turned into a duet bringing Effie back to Deena and the fold.

The audience seemed to like it, though, and I must say anything is better than that, "When I first saw you, I said..oh my" tune that keeps on coming back like a bad smell. It's amazing to see this or anything at the Apollo Theatre ("The bastion of African-American Culture and Achievement") where Ella Fitzgerald won one of the first "amateur nights".

My black culture on-stage education continued with FELA on Broadway. This show officially opens tonight, and follows AfroBeat legend Fela Anikulapo Kuti, who was a musician and activist from Nigeria. I've never seen such incredible color and dancing. Sahr Ngaujah as Fela has the charisma and stamina to pull off what must be the most exhausting role on stage today.

I could've done without the audience participation, and the set felt more House of Blues over the bayou than actual Nigeria. Fela also isn't quite sure if it's a concert or a historical biopic (they either need to add more story or remove it all), but for a message of continuing the struggle and the sheer exuberance of a music and dance that's never been to Broadway before - check it out.

Carrie Fisher in her one woman show, "Wishful Drinking". I read the book in half an hour, so I was thrilled to see it come to Broadway. Carrie is a self-deprecating riot, beginning with the tale about waking up in bed next to her gay friend who was dead. She goes hysterically on about her family "After the death of her husband, my father rushed to Elizabeth Taylor's side, and quickly worked his way to her front", fame "Celebrity is just obscurity biding its time", and Star Wars, "Princess Leia couldn't wear a bra in Star Wars, because George Lucas told me: There is no underwear in space". Couldn't get enough of her. I may even see it again.

I've seen some films recently, too. Oh I've been busy!

Food, Inc: So now I can't even eat soy? Shit!
Up: Loved this film, what took me so long to see it?
Bruno: I'm so glad I waited til it came to video. I laughed maybe twice.
Loggerheads: This is maybe the best gay (okay, gay-adjacent) films I've ever seen. It was so beautiful and heartfelt and lots like life: searching, searching, searching. Highly recommended!

2 comments:

Brandon said...

Had a blast hanging with you, Jesse! See ya again in December, hope you're ready for more!

Tony said...

Hey Jesse -

Man, you have been busy!
I still have my Playbill from the original DreamGirls (June 1983), aged packrat that I am.
Totally agree with your assessment of Loggerheads: a beautiful and intelligent film.
Thanks for the update on the other shows.