Monthly Archives: July 2010

Avenue Q – It Sucks To Be Me Video

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I have a friend who is constantly complaining that his life sucks.  He is looking for a job and kind of lives far outside of the city but what he forgets is that he does have friends and does have options, he just needs to motivate a bit more to get out of his stupor.  We recently just had a back and forth and he left to go have a cigarette break.  The thing is that he is a great person and a very good looking guy and he has his health, except for the smoking part, so I tried to convince him he needs to get over his depression and start to get more proactive with finding a job and finding a partner instead of sitting around and moping in his house.  After he went out for a cigarette I was getting ready for showtunes and he got me thinking of a song from the hit broadway musical Avenue Q.

The song is called It Sucks To Be Me and is sung by a huge part of the cast.  It is all about people sitting around moping about how bad their lives suck and it actually helps to start to motivate them to get over it and find a way to fix it.  Each character in the show tries to top the other characters about why their lives suck and in the end it is the character that plays Gary Coleman that wins.

This song is one of the songs that made this show famous and is one of my favorite showtunes from the musical Avenue Q.  It starts out with one of the main characters coming out of his apartment building to throw out his trash where he runs into his love interest in the show Kate.  From there they talk about how and why their lives suck.  Once Kate finished singing about how her life sucks you get to hear a fight between a gay roommate and straight roommate and from there on out more and more characters come in to sing about why their lives suck.  Avenue Q is an amazing musical and although it is not family friendly or for little kids, it is a perfect show for grown ups and high school students. The music is fun, the characters are puppets but also have real personalities and are people that many of us can relate to and the acting and singing is absolutely amazing.  Avenue Q is currently playing in many major cities and on tour and a show that I highly recommend.  You can see it in NY and it also has a home in London.  Avenue Q is an amazing show and the song It Sucks To Be Me is hilarious.  Here is the original cast singing It Sucks To Be Me.

Mama Cass Different is Hard from HR Puff N Stuff

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If you think Elphaba from the show Wicked was the first witch to feel different or to have a story or song about being different you were wrong.  Years and years ago TV and Music Diva Mama Cass made an appearance on the hit kids tv show HR Puff N Stuff as a witch and not only did she sing a song about being different but she helped kids to understand that it is ok to be different.

Whether you are shorter than other people, black or white, gay or straight, have brown hair or no hair or whatever makes you different its ok and it is a good a thing.  Mama Cass made a million appearances on different tv shows from Scooby Doo where she owned a a candy factory to HR Puff N Stuff but none of her guest appearances on tv shows as a character (excluding interviews and talk shows) really stood up to her guest spot on the tv show HR Puff N Stuff.  Almost everyone who watched the show remembers Mama Cass’s character on the show and everyone loved the song Different from HR Puff N Stuff.  So anyways, before Wicked and Elphaba singing songs about being different like The Wizard and I from Wicked we had Mama Cass on HR Puff N Stuff singing Different.  So here she is singing Different from HR Puff N Stuff.

The Capitol Steps – Meet the cast

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I recently had the pleasure of meeting one of the performers from one of Washington DC‘s most popular performance groups, The Capitol Steps. Jon Bell took a minute to sit down and do an interview with us at BroadwayReviewed.com and we are very excited to share with you a bit more about one of DC’s most well known performance groups The Captiol Steps.

What are the Capitol Steps?

“Capitol Steps” is a musical, political satire. It consists of a number of actors that make fun of the things that are going on in politics today. Each show usually consists of 3 men and 2 women that put the mock in democracy. It is a fun, fast-paced show geared to make you laugh.

How did the Capital Steps Form? (This answer came from one of the founders)

The Capitol Steps have an odd history – we started in 1981 as entertainment for a Senate office Christmas party. We were all working on Capitol Hill at the time…and the joke we like to make is that we originally intended to put on a traditional nativity play, but in all the Congress we couldn’t find three wise men or a virgin! So, instead we decided to make fun of the very people that employed us. It was the early days of Ronald Reagan…he had gone from acting to politics, so we thought we could go from politics to acting. And we thought that after that first party, someone would tell us to stop (or maybe even fire us!) but no one did, so 28 years later, the group is still going. For the first fifteen years, we had a rule that anyone who performed with the Capitol Steps had to be a Capitol Hill staffer. Eventually, during the Clinton years, we got so busy that we added some Washington-area actors, and now the group is about fifty-fifty, staffers and performers.

When we started, it was the Reagan administration and the songs were about the scandals back then, “Thank God I’m a Contra Boy” or “Mine Every Mountain.” Over the years, the members of the Capitol Steps have learned to listen to the news not as a serious source of information, but more, “is it funny and what rhymes with it?” So when Dan Quayle was Vice President, we did “Stand By Your Dan,” the first Gulf War gave us “Papa’s Got a Brand New Baghdad,” and the North Korea nuclear threat prompted the song “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Korea?”

Over the years, our favorite scandals have been those that suggest a certain song. For example, when Governor Mark Sanford said he was hiking the Appalachian Trail, but was actually in Argentina, it gave us a good chance to use “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina,” and when the Tiger Woods scandal broke, we did “Fly of the Tiger.” Sometimes it’s like the politicians are thinking of us. And though some people think Barack Obama isn’t always quite as funny as George Bush, he gave us Joe Biden. So we’re grateful for that!

How did you get involved with the Capitol Steps?

I was living in Williamsburg, Virginia at the time when I got an email from a friend of mine who had already been performing with “Capitol Steps” for about 15 years. His email asked, ” Are you still black ? Are you still performing ? ” He told me that “Capitol Steps” was currently looking for someone to play Barack Obama and that I should get in touch with Elaina Newport for an audition. I spoke with Elaina and sent her my headshot and resume. I also took a look on you-tube to see what “Capitol Steps” was all about and I realized that they often used well known songs and changed the words to make fun of what was going on in politics. Elaina told me that she wanted to hear me sing and that she would like a comic monologue. So, after checking them out on you-tube I got the idea to sing Stevie Wonder’s “Superstition” but change the words to talk about gas prices. I had the audition on a Saturday in November at 3 p.m., after the audition Elaina asked me to stay and watch the show that evening. She told me that I was hired during the intermission of the show that I saw that night. I was overjoyed !

What is the biggest challenge with all of the different routines you have to memorize?

The amount of time that we have to learn some of the songs is really fast, so I always have to be ready to learn something new whenever they have an idea for a new skit. Last year, I was flying to California to do a show and just as we landed in the airport, we got word that Michael Jackson had just died. Well, Micheal Jackson was in our show that we were about to perform in a couple of hours. So Elaina had to change the script in a matter of hours and decided to take Michael Jackson out of the show and replace him with Cher. Well, to make a long story short I began to learn the new lyrics for Cher and that evening I put on a skirt and a long,black wig and Cher became a part of the show.

What do you feel the biggest impact you have had with the Capital Steps is? Education, Entertainment, Awareness, etc…? I think it is the joy that I feel daily to go out and perform this show. It is so rewarding to bring joy to so many people for a living. My world has also expanded since I have gotten to travel throughout the country. I have met so many different cultures and made some great friends.

What do you love most about being a part of The Capitol Steps?

I think “Capitol Steps” is an awesome company to work for ! I get to travel the country and I have worked in some theatre’s that have seated over 2,000 people. I am trully blessed ! There are days that I take a breath and think “This is really happening to me!”. I also think that the people that I work for are so talented and fun. It’s always great when you love the people that you work with. I also LOVE the challenge of having to learn something new at a moments notice, this is an actors dream !! Another fun fact about the “Capitol Steps” is that we are always working with different performers. There are about 24 cast members throughout “Capitol Steps” and they are always mixing us up with different cast members, so we have A LOT of scripts in our head. We will often play different roles depending on who we are paired with. There could be 4 shows going on in different parts of the country on the same night.

Where can we see you all perform?

You can always find our schedule on our website : capitolsteps.com ~ You will be able to find out the next time we are performing in a city near you. You can also book us to do a show. We do private and public shows throughout the country and we always have shows every Friday and Saturday at 7:30p.m. at the Reagan building at 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C.

What would you say the most important thing someone can get from one of your shows is?

The news really can be funny, it’s all in how you look at it.

What do you like most about being a part of The Capitol Steps?

I love the travel, the people that I work with and the constantly changing script……. it is a wonderful challenge that I embrace daily.

What else would you like us to know about you or The Captiol Steps?

I have been performing professionally for 20 years and I love where my career has taken me. I thank God for opening these doors and allowing me to experience this incredible joy.

I’d like to thank Jon Bell for taking the time to talk with Broadway Reviewed and if you would like to see The Captial Steps perform contact them through their website by clicking here.

Into The Woods by Stephen Sondheim Reviewed

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One of the shows that I think really ended up making me fall in love with Broadway and always be a permanent fan has got to be a classic Stephen Sondheim show, Into the Woods.  Into the woods is a story about life lessons, greed, envy, happiness, love, sharing, adultery and pretty much everything else the Church warns you about and adds in some music and dancing.  There is murder and plotting and even love and shopping and while you’re watching the mass chaos of a show with a million twists and turns, you’re also watching it from the perspective of your favorite childhood characters acting it out from their own perspectives.

Into the woods is actually the story of storybook characters coming to life and how they interact with each other.  You have Cinderella and her ugly stepsisters.  You have Red Riding Hood and an anatomically correct Big Bad Wolf.  A Rapunzel who is locked in a tower by a Wicked Witch.  Jack who climbs a bean stock and disobeys his mother.  You have kings and princes, you have mentions of Snow White and you have the Baker and his Wife and many more of your favorite storybook characters.  The thing that you have to remember is that the actual storybook stories aren’t always the way that Disney likes to make you think they happened.

Disney is about making everything have a happy ending and removing all of the gore and bad parts of stories.  Into the Woods on Broadway actually kept the original story lines and even though I love the Disney version I have to say that the original stories are much better.  You have the stepsisters cutting off their feet to fit into glass slippers and you have Cinderella talking to a tree which represents her Mother instead of a Fairy Godmother (which Whitney Houston did an amazing job performing in the Movie version of Cinderella starring Brandy).   You have all of the characters living their lives the way the stories were originally told and then slowly each of them find one way or another to interact with each other and eventually everyone ends up in one big fairy tale with all of their paths crossed and you finally get to see who the hero’s are and who is really a coward.  I love that the Witch turns out to be the smart one, not necessarily the “nice” one but the practical one.  You have the people who want to do only good but never really address that while saving one or two lives they still murder someone else.  I hate that the show doesn’t ever bring that part up but then again it would end up being an extra half hour if they had to.  I almost feel bad for the female Giant who ends up getting slaughtered because of decision of the Hero’s to protect themselves and the two kids they end up taking on as their own. The Witch in Into the Woods is who sold me on the show originally.

I was in my car and heard a rap about vegetables on a mixtape and thought it was the coolest thing.  I still have no idea where it came from.  When I asked everyone I knew who sang it it turned out to be none other than the fabulous Bernadette Peters playing the title role of the Witch.  Not only did I become a fan of the show but I also became a fan of Bernadette Peters and quickly went to go find other shows she had been in.  The thing is that even though you may fall in love with a cast or a certain voice playing a part, if it was before YouTube.com or they never recorded that cast then the talent and show is lost forever to the people who were not able to get to see the show in person.  Luckily when it came to Into the Woods, the cast that starred Bernadette Peters was recorded and released on video so I not only got to see her perform the character of the Wicked Witch but I also got to watch it over and over again.

The songs from Into the Woods have been made famous not only because of the fact that they were in a Stephen Sondheim show and performed by Bernadette Peters, but other famous singers and Broadway Stars like Barbra Streisand have picked up the songs and made their own twists on them.  The soundtrack to Into the Woods is one of the most beautiful soundtracks if you like classic musical theatre.  They don’t have the ballads or ensemble of Andrew Lloyd Weber or the fun and exciting styles of Rent or Rock Operas but what they do have is the timeless and classic Stephen Sondheim touch and spirit that every broadway fan loves.

Into the Woods is an amazing show and perfect for almost all ages.  The show would be boring and probably not one parents would want little kids to see but if you have teenagers and older kids and want a fun night out at the theatre, you cannot go wrong with Into the Woods if you want to watch your favorite childhood fairy tales come to life and all of them get mixed together.  I give Into the Woods 3 out of 5 stars.

Wicked Austrailia One Short Day Merry Christmas Show

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So there is something completely wrong with seeing a stage set up like a church and an orchestra with people dressed like a church choir only to have two witches dancing around singing about short days; but when you combine it with iconic broadway characters like Glinda and Elphaba as well as an amazing story line and hit show, I think we can pass up the witches dancing around in a church.  I wanted to wish all the BroadwayReviewed.com readers a Merry Christmas in July Christmas Wish and the only video I could think of to share with you for Christmas in July would be the Australian Cast of Wicked performing One Short Day at a huge Christmas celebration in Australia.

The cast actually wasn’t as bad as they sound in this clip so please bare with them.  The characters singing weren’t the strongest people to embrace the cast but they are definitely far from the worst, you also have to remember that they are not on a professional stage built for the show with a sound guy who is used to adjusting them for the song so it really isn’t their element either.

If you are also wondering why I chose wicked instead of the thousands of actual broadway christmas carols and songs, even the spoof songs from Rent that make fun of the holidays its simple, one of my work friends ended up posting that she was going to see Wicked in San Francisco (where the show debuted) and since its July and the Wicked Australia cast did a performance one One Short Day at a Christmas event I figured it would be the perfect fit to not only get to do a Christmas in July post but also mention one of my favorite shows and get to be jealous of my friend Trisha who went to see Wicked in one of my favorite cities without me lol.

Anyways, Merry Christmas BroadwayReviewed.com and enjoy the Australian Cast singing One Short Day.  If you like this video post or blog, please feel free to leave a comment below or click the green tweet or retweet button up top to share this post with all your friends on twitter.