Dr. Blackwell's BLOG

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Theater Review: NYSEC’s Titanic, Promises, Promises, and American Idiot

Filed under: Performing Arts — Dr. Christopher Blackwell @ 01:09


Last week I was fortunate to make a trip to New York City to catch some shows and spend some much-needed time with my mom and sister. The entire trip was prompted by a news release a few months ago that the NYSEC was organizing a benefit concert of Titanic (which as most know is my all-time favorite Broadway production) featuring most of the original Broadway cast. Titanic won 5 Tony Awards in 1997 when it opened, including the coveted Best Musical. The NYSEC production was amazing! The cast performed magnificently and the large orchestra performed Titanic‘s elaborate and dynamic score beautifully. The acoustics of NYSEC’s Concert Hall are known to be excellent; but the spoken dialoague of the production was difficult to comprehend at times. Titanic was definitely the highlight of the trip! In the picture, you’ll see my mother and I posing with Titanic‘s Tony-Award winning Composer, Maury Yeston.

  Our second day in NYC ended with Promises, Promises, one of the biggest shows on Broadway right now. The show is playing at the Broadway Theater and is a musical comedy. Sean Hayes (best known as Jack McFarland from Will & Grace) stars as the main character Chuck, who’s life of mediocrity and singledom comes to an abrupt end when his co-workers discover he has an apartment that easily provides shelter for them to have affairs. Hayes really showcases his talent in Promises, Promises and Kristen Chenoweth’s country-style voice provides a sweetness to her role that was needed for an appreciation of her character, who might otherwise be thought of as unlikeable. But the real scene-stealer is Katie Finneran as Marge MacDougall, a “widow” who provides much of the second act with gut-busting laughter! Promises, Promises is definitely a MUST SEE!

The trip ended with a visit to the St. James Theater to see the production of the rock-musical opera American Idiot, based off of my favorite band’s (Green Day) 2004 album of the same name. The show also features a handful of songs from the group’s most recent 2009 album 21st Century Breakdown. The show centers around a group of friends who are at points of change in their lives and is set in the beginning of the Iraq War. One moves to NYC to attempt to find himself but eventually becomes addicted to heroin; another literally goes nowhere and ends-up unexpectedly becoming a father; and finally, one is wounded after joining the Army and going to war. The show is incredibly unique and anyone who is a fan of Green Day will love every minute of it. My only complaint is that the show, which runs a solid 95 minutes, does not have an intermission. At times, the story feels a little rushed and consequently, the characters are never developed to the level usually seen in traditional musicals. Then again, American Idiot is no traditional musical! It is a rock and roll music video live on stage and on the Great White Way is something that cannot be skipped, especially if you’re a fan of Green Day.

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