West Side Story tour review

I saw the performance of West Side Story when it came to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on April 27, 2013. This was the first time I had seen this live and the only experience I had with West Side before this was the movie, but I have seen enough musicals to know what to look for in this musical tour.

I was impressed with the singing, especially with Michelle Alves playing Anita, her voice blew me away! The two people playing the roles of the two main leads, Tony (Addison Reid Coe) and Maria (MaryJoanna Grisso), were very good, their voices worked very well together, however, I could not hear the speaking voice of Coe very well, it may, or may not have been the mic. Guy Mandia Jr. who played the role of Action did a very good job, he had a deep voice and was loud enough to hear, I was very impressed. I honestly was not expecting the character Anybodys (Bridget Riley) to sing, and wow! Riley had a very high, very good soprano (?) voice, which was discovered in the song “Somewhere”. The accents for the Puerto  Ricans were very, very thick, though I could understand Alves’ speaking voice. The sets were very good, specifically for “The Rumble”.

The dancing was fantastic! The scene for “The Rumble” was very well done, as was “The Prologue” and the songs “The Jet Song”, “Dance at the Gym”, “America”, “Cool”, and “Somewhere”.
The song “Maria” was very well sung by Coe, the last note of the song was jaw dropping due to it being so high. “Tonight” and “One Hand, One Heart” sung by Tony and Maria were sung beautifully by Coe and Grisso, their voices went very well together. Coe in my opinion sounded a little bit like London singer Julian Ovenden, while singing “Tonight”.

Overall it was a great performance, the only two things that were not in my favor was Coe’s speaking voice because it was to quiet. And the other thing is that I spotted a backstage worker during before the song “Somewhere”. Other than those two things the show itself and the actors were amazing. Great job to this cast and crew.

Les Miserables 25th Anniversary review

Les Miserables 25th anniversary on DVD was the first experience I had with the musical. The first time that I watched the DVD was in March of 2012 and I have been hooked on this musical ever since then. This concert on DVD came to the states and was in theaters in 2010, and it has also been on PBS as well.

The casting for this performance was very well done, and the props, although little, were well used. While watching one cannot help but to pay attention to the lighting that was used, as well as the fog, and the screens, which were used to help tell the story better and give close ups of the actors and actresses.

The casting included some very well known London and American singers and theater performers, such as Earl Carpenter, Lea Salonga , Alfie Boe, Norm Lewis, Ramin Karimloo, Hadley Fraser, Jenny Galloway, and Nick Jonas. Also in this performance Samantha Barks portrayed the role of Eponine.

In this performance Alfie Boe portrayed the role of Jean Valjean, and it was not until he sang “Bring Him Home” that I realized what a powerful singer one has to be to portray this character. Boe’s voice during that song blew me away. Boe’s acting was flawless, and there was so much emotion in his eyes from start to finish. Earl Carpenter as the Bishop, though a very small part, he did a great job, beautiful singing voice. Norm Lewis portrayed the role of Javert, and is a great baritone. His acting skills were amazing, from his movements to his facial expressions.  Lea Salonga as Fantine, portrayed the role beautifully, along with the way she sung “I Dreamed a Dream”. Matt Lucas portrayed Thenardier, with Jenny Galloway as Madame Thenardier. Lucas singing “Master of the House” was hilarious, he just looked like he was having so much fun, and when it came down to being the evil character Thenardier is, Lucas did a great job with that as well. The only thing that bothered me was his teeth, because of all of the makeup that was on them. Jenny Galloway was a great and hilarious Madame Thenardier, specifically during “The Wedding Chorale-Beggars at the Feast”. Nick Jonas as Marius was fairly good vocal wise, but he kept getting drowned out by all of the other performers, who are professionals. Also Jonas’ facial expressions were not that great, but he did a great job with his facial expressions in “A Little Fall of Rain”. His best song was “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables”. Katie Hall as Cosette was REALLY good. She sets the bar really high singing wise on the role for Cosette, because she is such a high soprano. Samantha Barks as Eponine was amazing, and she sang “On My Own” beautifully and had very good facial expressions. Ramin Karimloo as Enjolras was flawless, when he sang, he really lost himself in what he was singing, a true theater actor. He also sang very beautifully and powerfully. Hadley Fraser as Grantaire was HILARIOUS! Not only was he just down right funny, but during “Drink With Me” he really shows that there is more to the character that meets the eye than just a drunk, he shows just how deep the character really is.

The orchestra was amazing, as well as the conductor. From the close ups given on the DVD, one can really see how the instruments are being played. The conductor was great, and seemed to love his job. The choir was amazing as well.

The finale for the performance was fantastic, with the original cast, minus the original Enjorlas, David Burt, singing “One Day More”, Karimloo took the place of Burt in this. Before “One Day More” 4 Jean Valjeans, Com Wilkinson (original West End and Broadway), John Owen-Jones (25th anniversary UK tour), Simon Bowman, and Alfie Boe all sang “Bring Him Home”.

My only issue with this anniversary concert was the casting of Nick Jonas. His facial expressions were to serious, and during “Red and Black”he looked more embarrassed than in love. And it sounded/looked like he was trying to hard while singing, also he kept leaning toward the mic. Not to mention he sounded somewhat British when he is actually an American. However I am willing to cut him some slack because he had been on broadway when he 8 (?) playing the role of Gavroche in Les Mis, then he went to be in a big time band with his brothers some years later. As someone who has been out of the singing element for a while, I can honestly say that once someone has been out of a certain element for quite a while, the tendency to pick right back up is very difficult. But Jonas being a broadway performer now, he might be better if he were to go back having more experience than he did then in the year 2010.

Les Miserables 10th Anniversary review

The Les Miserables 10th anniversary was my second experience with this musical. The first time that I had watched it was on YouTube in the summer of 2012, and then I had gotten the DVD for my birthday that same year. This has been a very well known Les Mis anniversary concert, because it is older, 1995 to be specific, and it has a majority of well know original London and Broadway cast members revising their roles.

This concert production took place in the Royal Albert Hall in London, and because it is a concert, there was very little of any of the actors and actresses moving around, because they were singing in front of microphones and the actors and actresses that were not on for their cue were all sitting in chairs onstage in front of the orchestra. There is a screen, which was used for certain parts that could not be acted out, such as “The Final Battle”. It was also used for better close ups of the actors and actresses faces.

Colm Wilkinson (original West End and Broadway) portrayed the role of Jean Valjean and did a marvelous job, and he did a great job with his expressions. His last “home” in the song “Bring Him Home” was held for a period of time and done very beautifully. Phillip Quast (original Australian) portrayed the role of Javert and is honestly the best that I have heard. His facial expressions were fantastic, his voice was perfect, especially during the last note in “Javert’s Suicide”. Ruthie Henshall played the role of Fantine and wow. I am usually not very impressed with alto voices, but she sang “I Dreamed a Dream” so beautifully that it made me highly impressed. Alun Armstrong (original West End) portrayed Thenardier and did a great job during “Master of the House” and behind him the rest of the cast, who were all sitting down, were having fun as well. Jenny Galloway played Madame Thenardier and did a fantastic job. She did an especially good job while portraying a rather mean Madame Thenardier, but she was also funny as well. Michael Ball (original West End) portrayed the role of Marius and what a voice. During “One Day More” Ball and Wilkinson just sing over the other cast members there was that much power in their voices. Ball’s acting was fantastic, with these little movements he was able to make and he nailed his facial expressions. During “Red and Black” and “A Heart Full of Love” he did such a great job acting like a lovestruck puppy that he was just so adorable. His song “Empty Chairs at Empty Tables” was very well done, and his facial expressions were fantastic during that song. Judy Kuhn (original Broadway) portrayed the role of Cosette and she had a great voice and great facial expressions. Lea Salonga played Eponine and she was fantastic. During “A Little Fall of Rain”, I was nearly in tears Salonga and Ball were that amazing. Michael Maguire (original Broadway) portrayed the role of Enjolras and while he has a great voice his rapid blinking was SUPER distracting, that it made it hard to focus on his acting and voice.

Overall it was, and still is, a great performance, and at the end of it 17 Valjean’s from different countries went on stage to sing “Do You Hear the People Sing” in their languages. By watching this performance one can see and hear for themselves why Maguire won a Tony when Les Mis came to broadway, why no one but Ball is a great stage Marius (though few have come close on West End), why Quast has become the one of the best Javerts, and why this cast has become so well known in musical theater.

Wicked tour review

I saw Wicked on tour in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on September 5, 2013. This was my second time seeing this show, and it was amazing to say the least. The cast performed wonderfully and the singing was in perfect harmony during duets or the whole cast singing. The stage was set up perfectly and the lighting was very well done. The mechanical dragon that is used above the stage was amazing to watch and the other special effects, such as the background screen used for songs such as “I’m Not That Girl”was great for the other special effects.

Hayley Podschun as Glinda was amazing! She hit some serious high notes, sung loudly enough to hear over the music and the ensemble, and did a great job acting. What truly showed how great Podschun was as Glinda was at the begiining of the play right before “Dear Old Shiz” when she showed the loss Glinda felt for Elphaba. She was also hilarious when the character was comedic. Jennifer DiNoia as Elphaba was great. She really did an amazing job portraying the character and did a great job singing wise. The only thing that was bothersome, was during the first act I could not really hear her voice over the music on killer long notes, an example being the end of “The Wizard and I”. But besides that she did a great job, was a great singer and an amazing actress. Kathy Fitzgerald was amazing in her role as Madame Morrible. Fitzgerald had previously portrayed the role on Broadway in 2010-2011, so she has had previous experience in portraying the role of Madame Morrible. She was a great singer and a great actress. David Nathan Perlow as the role of Fiyero was great. Great dancing, great singing and terrific acting. Alex Wyse as Boq was amazing! He did a great job singing especially and portraying this shy and funny munchkin.

The other highlights of the performance was the dancing especially Walker Jones (the Wizard) during “Wonderful”. The flying monkeys were also amazing and did some of the best dancing. All of the actors/actresses were perfect in their singing and dancing. Overall the show was a real treat to see and was just amazing overall.

Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary review

With the “Phantom of the Opera” having celebrated its 27th anniversary on West End October 9, let us take a flashback to the 25th anniversary that was performed live two years ago.  The 25th anniversary is on DVD in London, the United States, Japan and is now on Netflix as well.
The 25th anniversary features the Phantom sequel “Love Never Dies” co-stars Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess, along with Hadley Fraser, portraying the three main characters. This was not Karimloo and Boggess’ first time on the Phantom stage, Karimloo was a famous Phantom since he took on the role in 2008 on West End at age 28. Boggess was the first Christine in the Las Vegas production, “Phantom-The Las Vegas Spectacular” in 2006, where “Phantom of the Opera” creator, Andrew Lloyd Webber, first noticed her. The entire cast did a great job performing, and the acting and singing is amazing.
The anniversary performance took place at the Royal Albert Hall in London and was seen worldwide with the use of recording cameras, it was also Karimloo’s last performance as The Phantom. The 25th anniversary performance had an encore performance after the play with Colm Wilkinson, John Owen-Jones, Anthony Warlow, Peter Joback and Ramin Karimloo singing “The Music of the Night” and special guest star Sarah Brightman (Original West End and Broadway and Christine) singing “The Phantom of the Opera.” Original West End and Broadway Phantom, Michael Crawford, also made a guest appearance, but did not sing. It is a great performance and highly recommended for any “Phan” to have and add to their Phantom collection.
I agree with this reviewer, “The Phantom Reviewer” for the most part. The part that I did not agree with was the harsh criticism of Sarah Brightman’s encore performance, where they talked about her “flying away” and “big eyes” (her acting techniques). I do agree with what they said about Hadley Fraser portraying Raoul, and the character Christine having to hold him back at the end of the “Final Lair” scene. I do not particularly like the little fangirling moments focused on Ramin Karimloo, I’m a fangirl too, but when I watch this DVD I keep it as professional as possible.

Love Never Dies (Australia version) review

Last year, the Australian version of “Love Never Dies” came to DVD and cinemas. It has the same title and most of the same songs as the original London cast, but with some changes such as the lyrics, the set, the costumes and of course, the cast.
The story of “Love Never Dies” takes place 10 years after “The Phantom of the Opera” and takes place in America in a park called Coney Island, where the Phantom, who goes by Mr. Y, is running his own park called Phantasma. Christine is married to Raoul and they have a son named Gustave, who has a mysterious parentage.
The cast had Ben Lewis as the Phantom, Anna O’Byrne as Christine and Simon Gleeson as Raoul. While the set was better than the London set, Lewis and O’Byrne were not. Ben Lewis‘ voice was too deep and his eyes were always wide and creepy, he was scary and the Phantom is supposed to have somewhat calmed down by this play. He also did not sing “The Beauty Underneath” like a rock song, but rather sang it just to sing it. Anna O’Byrne has a beautiful voice, but her acting was not the best. As Christine, she acted like she was still afraid of the Phantom, though Christine is actually still in love with him.  Christine is wearing a peacock dress in the song “Love Never Dies” which made no sense. The ending was disappointing because there was no blood when Christine got shot, and the Phantom’s deformity is not shown anytime throughout the entire play.
I for the most part agree with the “Phantom Reviewer” in his part one review and somewhat in his part two review. I do not like the trashing of the song “Love Never Dies” or a few others, but I do agree like most “Phans” that the story line is somewhat out there, but I like it. I also agree with what was said about using Ramin Karimloo and Sierra Boggess instead.

Phantom of the Opera (2004 movie) review

In 2004, the movie “The Phantom of the Opera” came to theaters, and then to DVD in 2005. It is not the first time there has been an adaption of the book by Gaston Leroux, but it is the first to be based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical.

The movie cast has Gerald Butler as the Phantom, Emmy Rossum as Christine and Patrick Wilson as Raoul. While Butler only had two voice lessons before taking on the role, Rossum had been singing since she was 7 years old and got the role for the movie at the age of 16. Wilson had already been on Broadway productions such as “Oklahoma,” and he was the only of the three main character actors to have seen the play.
Because Gerald Butler is good-looking, he was widely criticized for portraying a “sexy Phantom,” his singing was criticized as well.

Growing up with this movie since the age of 12, I like it. I thought Gerald Butler sang really well. Emmy Rossum is an inspiration to me for taking on a demanding role at a young age. When I listen to Patrick Wilson now, it is clear he had the more trained voice of the three.
Fun fact: Ramin Karimloo (the original “Love Never Dies” Phantom/25th anniversary Phantom) had a cameo as Christine’s father in the movie and was playing Raoul in the musical at the time.

Usually I tend to somewhat agree with “The Phantom Reviewer,” but this is the one case I do not. I do, however, agree about the deformity, which looks like a burn.