Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Battle of the Broadway Bands

Now THIS is why I live in New York ... on tap this week ...

Last Night - the Broadway opening of "American Idiot"
Tonight - Kenny Chesney's Summer in 3D movie opening at Lincoln Center
Thursday - "Memphis" (yes, AGAIN!)
Friday - Jeff Kazee's Kazeedigs at The Stone Pony
Saturday - an all-night scrapbooking crop (gotta capture all these great memories, right?!)

So, first up ... "American Idiot" ... holy cow what a night it was!

Broadway openings are always a spectacle. But, considering all the hype and the rockstar aspect of the show, last night was chaotically surreal as expected.

I scooted out of the office a bit early to head up to the theatre and meet up with my friend L (who got us the tickets in the first place ... THANKS, L ... love ya!) When I arrived, there was already quite a crowd both in front of the theatre and across the street to catch the red carpet arrivals.

There was no shortage of star power - Whoopi Goldberg, Rosie O'Donnell, Edie Falco, Donald and Melania Trump and Camryn Manheim, among others. (I'm pretty sure I was standing next to Tracy Pollan for quite some time, Michael J. Fox's wife. I will never forget that character she played in Law & Order ... brilliant!)

side note: a dear friend of mine is an investor in the show and attended the pre-show cocktail party and post-show blowout ... I'm waiting to get his report LOL ... but he's already on a plane to California this morning

And last, but certainly not least on the celebrity front was Steven Van Zandt (yes, the one and only Little Steven! more on that later. You can see him in this picture from the lobby ... just look for the purple headscarf LOL. See?! COMPLETE chaos!)

Anyway, back to the show. L and I had seats up in the balcony (close to God) in the first row on the side. Every seat was filled (of course) and the energy of the crowd was just electric.

Here is how I'll sum up the show ... I would definitely see it again. The songs are fantastic - we all know them - and the staging is fantastic, if not a little over-the-top (that's okay ... heck, this is supposed to be entertainment.) There are some great voices in the cast ... and though the show is very ensemble-driven - lots of huge production numbers, etc. - you can see the individual talent in many of the actors.

The use of scaffolding during the show is incredible ... at one point they tip the whole thing on its side while the actors are performing on it. The pace of the show is relentless and must be absolutely exhausting ... can't imagine keeping that level for 8 shows a week. I think it is a very different type of energy than "Memphis" which is also physically, especially vocally, demanding.

One of the best moments of the show for me, actually, is the end where the ENTIRE cast comes out with acoustic guitars to play "Time of Your Life" ... absolutely takes your breath away. SUPER COOL!! And they weren't faking it ... they were playing. I absolutely loved it.

(here's a little snippet L got!)

I think one of my issues with the show is its a lot of the same thing (angst angst angst), though I did feel the songs did flow very well in terms of the plot (which admittedly, is a bit weak.) I never really felt a connection with any of the characters -- I was impressed by the people playing the parts, but not necessarily the parts themselves. In my opinion, it already seems a bit "dated" in some ways ... keeping in mind that when Green Day wrote the record in 2004, society was in a different place.

As for the staying power of the show, I don't think its going to be one of those that becomes a staple in the musical theatre repertoire. Its for a particular place and time. Given the language of the lyrics, its not quite appropriate for young kids. A good portion of the Broadway world relies on tourists ... and I'm not sure this would be one that "a family of four" is going to go see.

Anyhoo, back to last night. So, after the show it was chaos trying to get OUT of the theatre. In a total grunge manner, you are encouraged to actually sign the wall of the hallway as you exit. Here's my "John Hancock" LOL

Much to my sheer delight, I got stuck right behind ... you guessed it ... Little Steven! Now, most people loved him in The Sopranos, and of course as part of the E Street Band ... but for me, what I love are the songs he has written with and for Southside Johnny. So, after he signed the wall (actually above the door as we were trying to get out) I mentioned that to him. Then we talked a couple of minutes about the show until we finally were able to escape to the street. Its a bit blurry (yes, I was a bit nervous) but here's him signing the wall LOL

Well, L and I stayed afterward to catch the cast as they were coming out and I was able to get my Playbill signed by just about everyone! I also was able to meet the guys from Green Day, who deservedly, looked to be just about the happiest guys on earth last night.

Afterward, L and I had our picture taken in front of the stage door with the opening night artwork (but I'll have to post that later after L has uploaded all her pictures - she got some fantastic ones of the cast!)

Here's the Playbill :-)

So ... why did I name this post "Battle of the Broadway Bands" ... well, because Tony Awards season is fast-approaching and its going to be interesting to see how everything pans out. There is a lot of talk about whether "American Idiot" is eligible for "Best Score" ... it wasn't originally written FOR the theatre (like "Memphis" was) ... but it was a concept album that was written with the vision of a production. As y'all know, I feel a strong connection to David Bryan, Joe DiPietro and the cast of "Memphis" and have my fingers crossed that they all will do well at the Tonys. And, hopefully, I will actually be attending the ceremony. Hehe.

In the meantime, though, I'm just happy to have these opportunities to see great live theatre.

New York, New York --
A hell of a town,
The Bronx is up and the Battery's down.
The people ride in a hole in the ground.
New York, New York --
It's a hell of a town.

(from Bernstein's "On the Town")

P.S. And wasn't it funny that in my last post I quoted one of Little Steven's songs ... and then, BAM ... I meet him. Ahhh. :-)