Monthly Archives: July 2013

Idina Menzel is Coming Back to Broadway with If/Then the Musical

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Idina Menzel is an idol in the world of musicals, and (even as a pre-teen) I was very distraught at the thought of never getting to see her perform live when she retired from touring shows in 2004 and took to working on television. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to announce that Idina Menzel is finally returning to Broadway!

After her 10 year sabbatical, Idina Menzel is coming back to NYC to take the lead role in an all new production called If/Then.

Her career kicked off with Rent in 1996, moved on to Aida for a while with the role of Amneris and left the bright lights of Broadway after the tour of Wicked in 2004 after she cracked a rib falling through a trapdoor on the second to last performance. Since she left she has appeared in films and TV shows like Rent, Enchanted, Glee, is currently working on Disney’s newest animated musical, Frozen. She will be playing the voice of Elsa the Snow Queen.

In case you didn’t know, Idina is married to Taye Diggs who was in both the Broadway and film version of Rent as Benjamin Coffin III. I recently read in People that they have opened a performing arts camp for underprivileged girls, where she and her husband personally work with the girls.

Mrs. Menzel has been a very busy woman and it is obvious that she wouldn’t return to Broadway for just anything.

This should be an extremely promising production. She will be working again with director Michael Greif who started her career in Rent, producer David Stone who worked with her in Wicked and working with, for the first time, Brian York and Tom Kitt who wrote the music for both If/Then and Next to Normal. Tom Kitt wrote music for Bring It On: The Musical, American Idiot, Hair and High Fidelity. She will also be joined by LaChanze who won a Tony for her performance in The Color Purple. LaChanze will be playing the role of Kate.

In If/Then, Idina will play a character named Elizabeth who is on the verge of turning 40. As a chance for a fresh start and a new life, Elizabeth moves to New York. She meets Kate who is a new neighbor to Elizabeth and an elementary school teacher. Despite Elizabeth’s attempts to have a perfectly planned out life, the most random occurrences and tiny decisions will impact her life in ways she’s never dreamt possible. Producers say that this is an original, romantic new show about how “choice and chance collide and how we learn to love the fallout”.

There is one song from If/Then available at this point, sung by Idina Menzel, called ‘Learn to Live Without’ which has a different sound to it than I was expecting. It has an earthy feel to it. Seeing it in context to the show should be very moving indeed.

The pre-Broadway premiere will be at the National Theatre in Washington, DC November 5th through December 8th and will officially hit Broadway March 4th.  (I’ll be doing a post about tickets and how to find tickets to this show on sale once I have everything finished.)

For those of you who have not had the privilege of hearing her perform, my favorite performance by her is from Wicked. It is a duet between her and her friend Galinda. The two of them started off despising each other and throughout the story they overcome their differences and a strong bond is built. I took my little sister to see Wicked a couple years ago after we found out she had cervical cancer and we have an exceptional affinity with this song. It is called For Good.

About the Author: Laura Bensen is a freelance writer with a passion for musicals. She spends her free time singing her heart out (when the house is empty) and searching for meaningful connections.


Bring Me My Bride – A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum

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My freshman year of high school I took a World Civilization class. Pretty much the only thing I remember from it was Bring Me My Bride from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To The Forum. We watched the movie right before some vacation or summer break, and it was a welcome respite from all of the schoolwork. Maybe that is why it sticks out in my memory better than the details of the Qing or Ming Dynasties. Anyway, I found Bring Me My Bride from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way To The Forum hilarious. While I hadn’t thought of it in years, a while back it came up as a suggested YouTube video, so I thought I should re-watch it. Today I finally had enough time to do just that, and it is no wonder it stuck in my head much longer than the rest of that World Civilization class did.

Bring Me My Bride From A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to The Forum starts off with pounding horse hooves, a massive troop of marching soldiers, and an ominous military tone. This might make you think it is a serious song – if you know nothing about the rest of the movie. The song is able to keep up this stone faced façade for maybe the first three lines of the song, until Miles Gloriosus says “Come tenderly to crush her [his bride] against my side.”

From this point it quickly becomes apparent that Miles Gloriosus — whose name translates as Braggart-Soldier — is more than an adept warrior. Miles is also an evil and arrogant man who has to get his bride quickly as he has “people to degrade” and “women to abuse.” A concise snapshot of how annoying and full of himself he is comes at the end of Bring Me My Bride from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. Miles Gloriosus is about to dismount his steed and yells “Stand aside everyone! I take large steps.” Come on Miles, you can’t just take smaller steps? You’re in a crowded urban center! While Miles certainly seems like an accomplished man, I don’t think I would want my sister to become his bride. As powerful as he may be, he seems like an even bigger jerk.

Despite being into degrading people, oppressing the meek and abusing women, I have to admit he still seems pretty popular. The whole city, his troops, and even his own self all swoon over Miles Gloriosus. His army’s loyalty, and his own cockiness really come out in the following lines referring to his body:

Look at those arms!
Look at that chest!
Look at them!

Not to mention the rest.
Even I am impressed!

Another funny part that shows how loyal and enamored his soldiers are comes right after the girls start cooing for him at about 1:12 in the video. This happens after every line in the verse, except soon this very feminine moaning begins to alternate between coming from the ladies and coming from Mile’s own troops.

Despite plenty of funny lyrics, I thought that the very best part was the bit of slapstick at 0:43. Here one of the drummer’s takes a tumble and starts a train reaction of tripping. That in itself is a pretty cliché comedy move — what had me laughing was the way the final man to fall went down. He seems to look at the dog pile of laid out legionnaires and think “why not?” as he gently drops down on top of them.

I can’t remember much of the rest of the movie, but after seeing Bring Me My Bride from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum again, I am tempted to re-watch the whole film this weekend. Miles Gloriosus seemed like such an enormous jerk that it would be great to see his ego get knocked down hard. I’d happily watch the whole movie just because I really want to figure out if he gets some sort of comeuppance for his arrogant antics and to see how things go with his bride.

The Book of Mormon at The Kennedy Center Reviews – Is It Worth It?

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Last night I went to a show that combines Darth Vader with Star Wars, Hobbits with Jesus and Gangas Kahn with a modern day Jewish/Christian religion. It’s wasn’t Jesus Christ Superstar, it was The Book of Mormon at the Kennedy Center. If you saw last night’s performance, you probably loved it, I did too…unfortunately you did not get the best of the show…and it wasn’t the cast’s fault. The Book of Mormon at the Kennedy Center reviews are going to be amazing, but I feel ripped off by something, the sound.

At first I was blaming Mark Evans or Elder Price, the lead character, when he looked like he was trying to belt out noted in songs like “I Believe” (which is one of the more loved ones because of their performance at the Tony Awards) and just couldn’t do it. You could hear him, but his volume never increased like the rest of the cast. I was also in the very front row so I could hear his levels and they didn’t go up either like the rest did when they sang out. I don’t know if they have someone on a sound board that forgot all about his microphone and didn’t push the leads volume up, but he was the only one whose voice did not get louder when it was supposed to and it definitely did not sound like he was trying to belt, however, this could have been a combination of three things.

1. They played a recorded version during hard songs which is actually very common with some shows. The recording could have gotten louder because it is pre-done, unless the sound person needs to make it louder manually. 2. He was perfectly on key and pitch which was amazing, but his microphone wasn’t working and when he got louder, it could have overloaded and not taken his voice with it. 3. He can sing very well, but he can’t belt. My guess is that it is 2 or 3 or a combination of them. In his defense, although the songs he sang were ruined for me and took away from what would have been a 100% perfect show because I wanted to hear belting with these new Broadway Anthems, they just got to DC and many cast members still had their luggage from traveling. To get up on stage and perform a high energy show with a lot of high notes after traveling is insane. I give them all credit for an awesome job which is very rare. The Book of Mormon Kennedy Center reviews are amazing, especially because of this, however, with that said, here is what I’m confused about.

They just got there so there are going to be some sound issues during the first few shows. But the lead in the show’s microphone doesn’t work or pick up his voice so that he can belt during both acts? They could have easily changed his microphone and run a test before the second act. He is an amazing actor, has a great voice, but I honestly believe he just couldn’t belt out his numbers last night which is a shame because it took away from the show for me. All of the supporting Actors and the real lead Christopger John O’Neill or Elder Cunningham’s voice rose and lowered perfectly, it was just Elder Price. Nabulungi or Samantha Marie Ware had a couple of smaller sound issues but she belted out instead and you could hear perfectly. She was able to fix the sound issues and give everyone an amazing performance. It was only Mark Evans who you couldn’t hear and he had the lead in a lot of the most popular songs which killed part of the show for me. I still loved and my reviews of The Book of Mormon at the Kennedy Center are positive, but I still can’t get over not enjoying his numbers because he didn’t want to or couldn’t belt because of the sound. I really think it was the sound guy’s fault and not the Actor, but something tells me it had to be a combination of travel, the Actors ability to belt night after night and the sound system. It definitely ruined one of the most loved songs vocally, but the acting during it was awesome and he still did a great job! If you are looking for reviews of The Book of Mormon at the Kennedy Center, then we say go!

If you read other sites that have The Book of Mormon at the Kennedy Center reviews, I have no doubt that they are going to be amazing and I don’t think I have ever given anything this high. The Book of Mormon at the Kennedy Center gets 4 and a half out of 5 stars. The dancing was perfect, routines well done, the cast was amazing, the characters kept it together, but the lead couldn’t belt out his songs or only his sound was off which takes a half star away. I wanted to do 4 out of 5 stars because a couple of my favorite songs were lacking because of sound issues, however I couldn’t do that because everyone did an amazing job. I can’t believe I just said that! The only other shows I think that have come close was Irving Berlin’s White Christmas and Absinthe in Las Vegas. The cast was amazing, especially the lead female and Elder Cunningham. Unfortunately I’m not going into the plot or jokes with my The Book of Mormon at the Kennedy Center reviews because I don’t want to spoil it, but if you are sold after reading the reviews of The Book of Mormon at the Kennedy center, you can buy broadway tickets for this show by clicking on the link that says broadway tickets. The reviews of the Book of Mormon at the Kennedy center should all be amazing. I’m probably the most critical in DC so if anyone else is writing about it, expect it to have at least 4 or 5 stars out of 5. The show was awesome and a must see. You can still buy tickets to Book of Mormon at the Kennedy Center through this link and then come back here and let us know what you thought.

broadway songs about loving someone you cannot have

The Top Ten Broadway Songs about Dating – Love These.

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broadway songs about datingI’ve started dating again and with that I started a new playlist of broadway songs about dating. Broadway songs about dating could be anything from remembering going on a date to just simply asking someone out. They could be about past dates or even warning people about not dating someone. The showtunes about relationships and taking someone out below are some of my favorite and there are tons of others. If you’d like to share your own broadway songs about dating, please feel free by leaving a comment. (more…)

I’m Still Here from Follies – Broadway Songs about Being in the Theatre

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The perfect song to end the week of broadway songs that are all about being in, starring in, auditioning for or even just dreaming about being in theatre has to be one that is about surviving and lasting in Theatre. Instead of Zip, Casting Call for a New Best Friend, Broadway Baby, Give My Regards to Broadway, Another Opening Another Show, 42nd Street, Lullaby of Broadway or any of the others, I’m Still Here from Follies is the perfect way to end the show. Regardless of how long your career has been, how many shows you’ve done, how many Tony’s you’ve won, it is amazing to last your entire life on stage.

The dancing takes a toll on you. You have years where you can’t land any roles and then you become paranoid about your age, appearance and drive yourself crazy. That’s why I love I’m Still Here from Follies. The song is an amazing one about lasting in the theatre and never giving up. The character talks about not having a show and not having money to being the lead and making a ton. Sometimes she’s eating pretzels and beer vs. expensive foods and about the clothes she can afford or even still has. Being in the theatre can be a rollercoaster.

It takes a toll on your mind, your emotions and your body. You have to be tough to not only keep going and keep working as an Actor, but you also have to be almost indestructible to survive performing for your entire life. Dancing almost every night and sometimes twice a day, belting out songs and running back and forth to change costumes can literally kill you, your body, your voice and your spirit. You really have to love being on Broadway to last and you have to really be dedicated and risk everything including your mental and physical health in order to make it and last. That’s why I chose I’m Still Here from Follies for the last song this week about Broadway Songs about being in the Theatre. I’m Still Here could have been another great option, but I’ll probably do a top ten list of broadway songs eventually and that’s when I’ll use it. Thank you again for reading and feel free to leave a comment with your favorite showtunes about broadway or being in theatre.