Monthly Archives: February 2013

One of those Holy Sh*T, OMG Performances – Audra McDonald

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There are certain performers that people have a hard time taking their eyes off of.  It isn’t about having a presence, it’s about facial expressions, movements and most importantly a voice.  Audra McDonald is one of those people.  The problem with many of her variety show and charity performances is that Producers are always combining her with other just as or almost as amazing performers.  In the video below you’ll see her along side two amazing women, Marin Mazzie and Judy Kuhn, who can sing, but lack Audra’s ability to to create emotions from their faces that pull in an audience and make them feel whatever the Actor wants.  However, when you get three voices and an actress like Audra McDonald on a stage together and have them belting out some of the most loved showtunes during a tribute to Andrew Lloyd Webber, you get a holy sh*t and OMG that was an amazing performance and something you won’t soon forget.  Unlike the Oscars and the Grammys, broadway charity and tribute shows can combine songs, talents and also create mashups that traditional entertainment shows can never pull off.

The Grammy awards may have a ton of great singers, but unfortunately they do not have the ability to get people that can belt out and create blended voices (not harmonies) while taking three gorgeous songs and turning them into one incredible medley.  This is something that is almost exclusively reserved for Broadway and theatre.  That’s what makes the Tony Awards and tribute shows so amazing.  Instead of just listening to a cast perform a song from their show, you get things like Avenue Jew, The cast of Spring Awakening Auditioning for Grease and even events like Bravo TV’s featured Best of Broadway that brought us incredible performances from Linda Eder, Adam Pascal and a ton of amazing talent from numerous other Broadway Veterans.  I’ll post a few of those videos later this week.  I don’t the Bravo show was for charity though, I think it was just for Bravo to bring a ton of talent onto their Network and make a ton of money.  With that said, the music and performances were incredible and they really did an amazing job.

If you ever get a chance to go to a Broadway fundraiser or charity event, or even a tribute to a composer or Broadway legend, go.  You’ll get to see so much talent performing things you’ve never heard of.  It may be the only time you ever see numerous stars performing insane songs together, in one place and songs that are normally saved for soloists.  You will more than likely also get to experience hearing showtunes from musicals that haven’t run or been on stage in decades making these events once in a lifetime experiences that may never come again.  If you are planning a trip to NYC and haven’t figured out when you want to go, try to schedule it around one of these events.  You’ll absolutely thrilled you got to see one.   Audra’s performance singing “Love Changes Everything” is amazing and the other two performers Marin Mazzie and Judy Kuhn did an incredible job with their songs.  The three really created an OMG and Holy Sh*t moment that we are lucky enough to have on film.  Please feel free to leave a comment below if you like or didn’t like the performance and also feel free to share this post on Facebook and Twitter by using the buttons at the top of the post.

Camelot from Monthy Python and Spamalot…because Ryan wrote another post

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When I was in middle school and told my friend I was going to read the King Arthur saga, he told me I should just watch Monty Python’s Quest for the Holy Grail instead because it was the same thing.  He was totally wrong, but I’m ok with that because the misguided advice gave me the chance to sit down with my family and see one of the most hilarious movies and show tunes of my life.

Although the film is definitely a classic comedy and completely littered with laughs, the first thing that comes to mind whenever I think of it is the Knights of the Round Table / Camelot song. Each time I see the movie, the song gets stuck in my head for a few days.  The upbeat tune is incredibly catchy and shows a side of the famous and mythologized knights of the Round Table that definitely did not make it into most of the written King Arthur tales.

In the song, the knights of Camelot readily admit that in “War we’re tough and able, quite indefatigable” but when they are not battling it out with swords, they like the simpler pleasures in life, like impersonating Clark Gable, singing opera, and eating ham and jam and spam a lot. The song demonstrates that these warriors know how to wield a weapon, but they also know how to unwind and have a great time doing dance routines. Even though it only lasts a minute, it had my entire family laughing for much longer than that. If you watch the video, you’ll see that even the prisoner hanging from a stone wall in shackles can’t help but get in on the action.

Anyone who enjoys slapstick comedy, jolly tunes, and watching men in full suits of body armor dance on banquet tables will have a great time watching the Knights of the Round Table song. If you want to see it live, look up if Spam A Lot is running in a theater near you, it’s another Monty Python fun filled feature based off of the same movie and song.

Populism from Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson the Musical

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This is the first guest post from my new writer Ryan who I am extremely excited to see getting into Broadway by finding out there are a ton of shows with Punk Music and things that he is into.  That’s one of the things I love about shows and songs like “Populism” from “Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson”.  They aren’t your typical Broadway showtunes and if you have a friend that isn’t into typical Broadway music, you can easily get them to begin to like shows by showing them productions that have music similar to what they would normally listen too.  Ryan found the song Populism from Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and instantly knew that he wanted to write about it here for his first post on broadway reviewed.

It may be strange for a thespian, a punk rocker and a history buff to all go to a Broadway show together and leave satisfied, but Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson the musical is a strange show. This rare mix of theater, 19th century politics and raucous rock music is an oddly appropriate way of honoring a President who is notorious for his reckless disregard towards authority and having shot another man to death in a dual.

While all the tunes in the show had the cast rocking and strutting, I found the opening song, “Populism, Yeah Yeah,” to truly capture the spirit of Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson the musical. Populism, Yeah Yeah is a booming and raunchy show tune with a hard hitting hook and hilarious lyrics that lets the audience know the show doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Even the show’s most somber spectators  will have a hard time keeping a straight face when they see a cast decked out in mid 19th century fashion belting out rock music. A favorite part of mine was the song’s pop-punk style bridge when they start singing about American expansionism, especially because they are clearly uncertain about what was going on politically, giving a wink and a nod to populisms’ weaknesses, even as they serenade the philosophy.

Cause it’s the early 19th century
We’ll take the land back from the Indians
We’ll take the land back from the French and Spanish
And other people in other European countries
And other countries too
And also other places
I’m pretty sure it’s our land anyway

Beyond being a fun, witty, and catchy song, Populism Yeah Yeah from Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson the Musical captures the spirit of the show as well as that of the man himself. The song is a great summary of Jackson’s political philosophy and does an excellent job of expressing how hell bent he was on taking down the establishment and the elite, expanding America’s territory, and giving the government back to the people of America (as long as they weren’t native Americans). In other words, Jackson was fighting the man.

With a playbill featuring a gun, and a torn up American flag over a pair of low slung jeans with the tagline “History just got all sexy pants” the Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson musical lets you know how raunchy it will get right off the bat. As soon as the curtains open, you will see just how true this is. Whether you are looking for a rocking musical, a 7th grade American history refresher or just a generally fun show, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson the musical will give you all three and leave a song or two stuck in your head for days.

5 Tips to Auditioning for a Show & I Hope I Get it from A Chorus Line

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When I was a kid we always had A Chorus Line on as one of our favorite movies.  The only other movie musical that was played as much was Rags to Riches and what’s scary is I can probably remember all of the songs from then, even though I haven’t watched either show for a very long time.  The funny thing is that auditioning for a Broadway show or professional theatre is a lot like a rags to riches story.  Even if you aren’t making a ton of money yet when you land your first couple of shows, you feel amazing because you are actually performing and possibly even starring on Broadway.  With that said, after auditioning and landing my first show, watching a ton of friends audition and having friends who have been on Broadway, here are 5 tips anyone and everyone could use or think about when auditioning for a Broadway show and the showtune I Hope I Get it from A Chorus Line because it is all about auditioning and landing a show.

1.  Don’t be gay.

Broadway is the most homophobic industry their is for Actors.  If the directors, producers or anyone else has any indication you are gay when you are auditioning, you lost the audition.  That sounds off because of all of the gays on Broadway, but if you can’t fool them into thinking your straight, they aren’t going to think you can convince middle America and the bible belt your straight either.  If you cannot play a straight man on stage to impress the majority of Americans, especially the bible belt tourists who come to NYC to see a show, they won’t spend their money and you won’t get the part.  Broadway is about selling tickets and being profitable like any other business.  Flaming gay men (besides stars like Nathan Lane, Harvey Fierstein and a few others who are already famous and can bring in a crowd) cannot be flaming on stage because the rest of the country wants to love the story and if the story involves a man falling in love with a woman, and the guy is clearly not straight, tickets won’t sell and the show is over.  That is why you have to be straight when you go in and until you’ve landed the part.  Even after you land the part, you still need to be able to pull it off so the producers, etc… don’t change their mind.

2.  Sing something from the opposite sex and make it your own.

I never got why men sing famous showtunes for men and women perform well known showtunes for women when auditioning.  If you can take a hard to sing showtune from the opposite gender and turn it into something amazing, that is possibly going to be more impressive to the people casting the show than you doing something that you should be expected to do.

3.  Do not show any emotion or nerves, except what your character should be feeling.

If you’re nervous or admit to being nervous, what happens when you’re actually on stage?  That will effect what happens in your audition and show why you shouldn’t be in the role.  Everyone gets stage fright, it’s the people who don’t show it and just go for it that get the roles (Barbara Streisand is probably the one major exception to this, but she still goes out there and performs for her audience).  If you do screw up, don’t blame it on being nervous.  One other option is to play off the mess up and change your character to show range, ability to adapt and that you don’t get embarrassed.  Things happen in live theatre and if you can recover and turn a failed audition from a screw up into an amazing performance with laying on the floor and going a bit crazy, you can show that you can handle a mess up on the stage and fully recover the scene.

4.  Feel free to brag, but make it relevant.

One thing some people do is forget to talk about themselves.  They tell stories of wanting to be on Broadway and that it’s their dream.  No crap, that’s why you and everyone else are there.  Other people talk about breaking glass with a high note (I’d love to see the producer and director ask them to actually do it) and others just mention the shows they were in.  Instead of doing this, talk about your experiences on the stage.  Talk about mess ups that you helped recover in an instant and let them in to see what you are really like.  You’re going to be working closely with them for a long time, especially if you’re in a touring cast, so let them see the real you.  If you get past all the crap and they are actually talking to you, let them see who you are and talk about your achievements but also why you would be a benefit to the cast.

5.  Have fun.

It’s a job interview, but it is also something you dreamed about doing for your entire life.  Remember dreaming about auditioning as a kid and bring that energy and love for theatre with you.  If you aren’t having fun with your audition, your nerves will take over and you could mess up.  Theatre is fun and that is why you love it.  It can be stressful, hurt you emotionally more than most other industries and you’ll probably have more rejection than anywhere else which is why you need to remember it’s your dream and something you have always wanted to do.  By remembering that you should try and make every audition about being fun and positive.  Producers, Directors, casting people and others will remember you and notice you are always happy and upbeat and that is the type of person they probably want in a cast.  It keeps everyone else going.

The last thing to remember is proper manners.  Remember to say thank you, goodbye and be polite.  Say hello to everyone in the room and shake their hands or give a hug if they want one.  Also, don’t take their feedback as offensive, it is there to help you most of the time.  You might be nervous like the people auditioning in the song I Hope I Get it from A Chorus Line, but you have to remember to remain calm, be yourself and kick ass at your audition.

Ain’t Never Had a Friend Like Me – Working Mom’s Valentine’s Showtune

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I’m very excited to have a post from one of my favorite mommy bloggers who I’ve known for years.  Sabrina Malone from Working Mom.  I asked her if she would write a post for me about a showtune for Valentine’s and she instantly knew what she wanted to write about.  Here is her favorite valentine’s day showtune that she instantly wanted to write about.

Mister Aladdin, sir

What will your pleasure be?

Let me take your order

Jot it down

You ain’t never had a friend like me…

 

Life is your restaurant

And I’m your maitre d’

C’mon whisper what it is you want

You ain’t never had a friend like me…

 

Yes sir, we pride ourselves on service

You’re the boss

The king, the shah

Say what you wish

It’s yours! True dish

How about a little more Baklava?

 

Isn’t there something about this song that just resonates? There’s something alluring about the idea of having your own genie, a powerful being dedicated toward fulfilling your wishes and desires. The only trouble is…wish fulfillment is a tricky business. According to almost all the literature available, Genies tend to be more trouble than they’re worth.

Just think of all the episodes of “I Dream of Jeannie” and the problems Major Nelson had to fix as a result of things going wrong with Jeanie. Despite the fact that her intentions were good, and she really did try hard to please her Master.

In the Disney movie Aladdin, “Genie” was also a comical, good-natured creature. This certainly made things easier and better for his Master.

[Spoiler Alert]

However, when Jafar becomes a genie – even a child could envision how mean-spirited his take on wish fulfillment would turn out to be. In fact the sequel to Alladin, “Return of Jafar” illustrated that very point.

Consequently, people have actually attempted to mitigate the likelihood of wishes going wrong by drafting meticulous, precise wording for making a wish. (Just in case you ever propitiously find your very own genie.) For example, one of the most iron-clad wishes for immortality I’ve ever seen reads like this:

“I wish to live in the locations of my choice, in a physically healthy, uninjured, and apparently normal version of my current body containing my current mental state, a body which will heal from all injuries and which will be protected from any diseases, injuries or illnesses causing disability, pain, or degraded functionality or any sense, organ, or bodily function.” -Open Source Wish Project

In conclusion, if you ever find yourself in possession of a genie, I recommend you proceed with extreme caution. Consider whether it would be better if you refrained from making any wishes at all! Instead, you’d be happier and more fulfilled by being grateful for what you already have.

BIO

Sabrina O’Malone works full-time while raising and homeschooling her six children ages 15 and under. (That’s no typo – six kids + a full-time job + homeschooling!) Professionally, Sabrina is the founder and President of WorkingMom.com. She’s an author, speaker and former Mrs. America Pageant Contestant. (Long story) Working with her husband Daniel, WorkingMom.com has become an online powerhouse, saving time, energy and money for nearly 500,000 families every year. The free checklists, coupons, inspiring articles and practical resources share the good news that it is indeed possible for moms to give 100% on the job and 100% to their families.