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Category Archives: Musical

The Lion King on Broadway Turns 14

If you find it hard to believe Disney’s The Lion King is 14 years old then it’s with good reason–the movie is 18 years old, as it was first released in 1994. However, the Broadway musical is 14 years old, as it was first released in 1997. The Broadway film was based on the Disney cartoon, and featured familiar songs as well as a few originals by the team of Elton John, Tim Rice, as well as Hans Zimmer (score) and Lebo M. (choral arrangements).

The play was truly something inventive and avant-garde in its own wholesome way. After all, it’s easy to turn Hamlet into a Broadway play. However, how do you turn Hamlet with a cast of African jungle animals into a Broadway play? Disney had their work cut out for them. The Lion King on stage could have been something very good or very bad. (Just look at the mixed reaction the Broadway version of Spider-Man received!)

Credit much of the play’s success to Julie Taymor who helped producers figure out a way to combine live actors with animal costumes and with puppetry! The Disney Theatrical company debuted The Lion King to great acclaim, and it was a hit at the Orpheum Theatre in Minnesota even before it hit Broadway. Today, it has been performed over 5,000 times and is ranked as the seventh longest-running show in history.

Now The Lion King is turning 14 and it just can’t wait to be king! It has grossed over $4.7 billion dollars and been seen by over 63 million people. Now is the perfect time to publicize the live action musical’s 14th birthday, as The Lion King franchise lives on. Why even Disney hasn’t stopped celebrating this timeless story. They recently released the original Lion King film in 3D and have consistently made sequels to the original story, including The Lion King 1½ (featuring Timon and Pumbaa) and The Lion King 2: Simba’s Pride, which is a cheap but still ambitious project, which seeks to adapt the tale of Romeo and Juliet into traditional Disney anthropomorphism.

However, nothing can compare to witnessing the stage show of The Lion King The Musical in person! It’s a larger than life experience, not quite human, not quite nature, but ultimately unforgettable!

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s 1990 and 2000 Legacy

Andrew Lloyd Webber earned much of his fame in the 1980s thanks to grand musical productions like The Phantom of the Opera and Cats. (While Evita earned much acclaim in the 1980s it was actually a 1970s production) While everyone knows Andrew Lloyd Webber from his biggest hits, you may wonder what the composter and theatre guru has been doing as of late.

He’s kept very busy, and particularly since the 1990s and 2000 decades. Andrew Lloyd Webber oversaw the production of Sunset Boulevard, a thirteen million dollar investment that never quite proved profitable. Though the show was popular and though the songs are often sung today with Webber’s greatest hits (“With One Look” and “As If We Never Said Goodbye”), the production closed early, even after winning seven Tony Awards and setting all sorts of advance purchase records.

In the late 1990s, Andrew Loyd Webber turned his attention to Whistle Down the Wind, a collaboration with rock star Jim Steinman that did not end well. The talented and perfectionist composter found greener pastures when the 2000 era came in. Some of his best work debuted this decade including The Woman in White and his own production of the legendary entity, The Sound of Music.

Since the mid to late 2000 decade, Andrew Lloyd Webber has been doing “charity work” for a few reality TV shows, but his greatest achievement has to be the 2009 Love Never Dies production. This official sequel to The Phantom of the Opera featured music by Webber and lyrics by Glenn Slater and Charles Hart. The storyline jumps ten years into the future and reunites Christine and the Phantom. Unfortunately, the production received generally poor reviews and thus the Broadway production was postponed, perhaps indefinitely.

His latest venture, The Wizard of Oz, in which he collaborates with Tim Rice (of The Lion King fame) should prove interesting, as the production will feature new songs and feature Phantom alumni Michael Crawford as the Wizard. Despite all of his new age success, it’s hard to escape the fact that Webber’s best work was in the 1980s during which he created at least two iconic masterpieces which revolutionized theatre–the one with the big kitties and the one with the white mask. You can still see the best work of Andrew Lloyd Webber when The Phantom of the Opera and Cats tours your city!

Does Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark Live Up to the Hype

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is one of the most hyped Broadway productions in history! It’s all the more famous, or shall we say infamous, given the number of controversies that have taken place during its first year of production. (It was also the butt of many jokes at the Tony Awards) What is Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark and why is it the center of so much controversy?

This production of Spider-Man is actually very inventive, and a far cry from the blockbuster movies starring Tobey Maguire that you may remember. The production is a rock musical in the spirit of The Phantom of the Opera, though it is based on the comic by Stan Lee and Steve Ditki. The play does stick to familiar territory, namely Spider-Man’s romance with Mary Jane, his origin and his battles with nemesis Green Goblin. While this is all fairly predictable, the biggest surprise comes from the music itself. The music is divinely inspired, as it features music and lyrics by U2‘s Bono and The Edge.

The Edge wasn’t sure how to describe the show, though he managed to explain, “[It has] elements of rock and roll…elements of circus…elements of opera.” Bono meanwhile, called the production “pop-up, pop-art opera.” Of course, to many attendees (including Broadway critics) the music is in the background and the real achievement is in the visuals. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is the most expensive production in the history of Broadway thanks to its stunts and action-packed visual effects. There are many stunts in the production including actors swinging from webs and simulating fight scenes in the air.

The controversy you have been hearing about comes from reports of actors being injured during rehearsals and previews, and the original director Julie Taymor leaving the production. Yes, this is an ambitious production to say the least and with great power comes great responsibility…or so we once heard. However, the production’s flamboyance and occasional fumbles are what make the production an object of fascination in mainstream American culture.

Patrick Healy of The New York Times states that the show is “a national object of pop culture fascination” due to its media coverage, its frequent mentions by late night comedians, and its broad audience of adults and children. The songs of the production have also seen mainstream coverage on Good Morning America, American Idol, and The Tony Awards. See what the hype is about get Spider-Man tickets near to you!

Wicked is Wickedly Funny

Wicked will probably always be one of my favorite musicals. I loved the cast, the music, the score, and the costumes. The play is loosely based on “The Wizard of Oz” but it is actually more of an unlikely prequel to the Frank Baum book. It focuses on the relationship between two very different young ladies. One is pretty, popular, and selfish. This leads to one of the most best known songs of the production, Glinda does an amazing job singing, “Popular.” The other girl, Elphaba, is smart, talented, mean to others, and a loner. It is a story that weaves the well-known themes of bigotry, improbable friendships, and the power to transform people.

Both Glinda and Elphaba are wonderful singers and the songs are absolutely memorable. The story begins with Glinda sitting prettily in a swing and asking, “It’s good to see me, isn’t it?” This brings the first of an evening of chuckles from the audience. She then rather seriously announces that the Wicked Witch of the East is dead. Thus begins a flashback chronicling the unlikely friendship between Glinda, who is supposed to be the good witch, and the green-skinned, Elphaba, who was basically the good girl until shattered idealism transformed her into the wicked witch.

Glinda and Elphaba star as an unlikely pair of boarding-school roommates who somehow form a strong bond as Glinda finally transforms into the really good witch she is meant to be. The most memorable songs for me include the well-known “Popular” and “Defying Gravity” but my favorite song came at the end when the girls join together to sing a moving version of “For Good.” Because they knew each other, they have been changed for good. Wicked The Musical is spell binding from opening act to the closing curtain.

The War Horse Is A Must See!

Before Steven Spielberg releases the movie version, fans are lining up to see the theatrical production of War Horse. Unlike the forthcoming movie version, the play does not use real horses but instead makes dramatic use of puppetry to tell the story of Albert, a young English farm boy, and his beloved horse, Joey. The story takes place in Europe during World War 1 and takes Joey on an odyssey while Albert sets out on a mission to find his horse.

The puppeteers masterfully depict Joey and three other life-size puppets as they gallop, scream, breathe, and interact with the human characters. An astute observer can learn to read volumes from the movement of Joey’s ears. This is all done so skillfully that the puppets do not overpower or detract from the production.

The production takes place on a nearly bare stage aided by only a few props. As the story takes place during the war, there is plenty of graphic imagery including walking corpses and barbed wire fences. The large tank crossing the stage will surely get your attention.

Theater goers should be warned that “War Horse” is an absolute tearjerker. Bring your handkerchief. It is a sentimental and heart-warming story told in a spectacular manner. Do not expect your typical “National Velvet” story.

Readers of the children’s novel, “War Horse,” may find it difficult to imagine this story delivered as a stage production. This cast and crew, however, make Michael Morpugo’s novel seem as if it were written for the theater. A sufficient scattering of ballads is incorporated to allow us to label this production a “musical,” but it is the touching story of a boy and his horse that makes this play so memorable.

You can enjoy War Horse in London, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Boise and New York. Get your War Horse tickets for these locations today so you don’t miss this amazing event.

Menopause The Musical – Laugh Out Loud Funny!

Four women at a lingerie sale at Bloomingdale’s might not have much in common if it were not for “Menopause the Musical.” This unseemly group, made up of an aging actress, an old hippie, a naive housewife and an executive! This group bonds as they fight over a black lace bra and parody their way through heated discussions about memory loss, chocolate cravings, hot flashes, night sweats, aging, too little sex and much more!

This show well may be the only thing that is funny about menopause, but these ladies are “laugh out loud funny” and will have you cheering them on and even dancing in the aisles as they belt out parodies of some of the classic songs 60s, 70s and 80s.

As the women go from floor to floor, they explore various aspects of the change and end up forming a sisterhood. The professional woman talks about becoming forgetful. The soap star bemoans about the perception of beauty. The naive housewife worries about the few extra pounds she has packed on. When mood swings happen at the old hippie’s house, her husband frequently disappears.

Audience members may not know the songs, but all 26 of them will sound familiar. “Staying Alive” is redone as “Staying Awake” and “Chain, Chain, Chain” becomes “Change, Change, Change.” Most pre- and every post-menopausal woman can relate to “Don’t Say Nothing Bad About My Body.” When the fatigue hits (and it will), it’s easy to slip into “Puff, My God, I’m Dragging.” The highlight song has to be “Good Vibrations” which has absolutely nothing to do with what the Beach Boys originally intended.

This show is perfect for men and women. It gives men a glimpse into this foreign world and allows women to laugh — and sing — about life’ changes. Get your Menopause the Musical tickets today for a show near you!

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