“Once” tour review

Tony award winning musical of 2012, “Once,” came to Oklahoma City, Okla., on January 13, 2015. I got to see it on January 17, 2015 and I was not disappointed.

The cast included West End actor, Stuart Ward as Guy, Dani de Waal as Girl and Evan Harrington as Billy. All of the actors in the performance played instruments such as the guitar, piano, cello, drums, violin, etc.

Ward was amazing as Guy. He was a great actor and had fantastic voice. His first song, “Leave” was entrancing and had so much emotion, especially with his guitar playing. His duet with Waal in “Falling Slowly” was amazing. Their voices went very well together.

Waal did a fantastic job as Girl. She was humorous, had a beautiful voice and did an amazing job dancing with the ensemble and portraying the emotions in the song “If You Want Me.” Her best song overall was her solo “The Hill,” because of her voice and her emotions. She did a great job on the piano, which she plays during the musical.

Harrington was great as Billy. He looked like he was having fun with the role, from giving humorous lines to being serious when the situation in the musical called for it. He had a great voice as well and was great playing the guitar, percussion and ukulele throughout the musical.

This was my first time seeing this musical and it became a new favorite of mine by intermission. It has beautiful music, especially “Falling Slowly.” Amazing choreography in “Gold,” with the way the actors could dance and play their instruments at the same time. Another favorite of mine is “Leave,” which was a wonderful opening song.

The musical itself was wonderful. A great love story between the two main characters, that goes from a shaky friendship to where they slowly fall in love. It is also about music along with the stories and passion behind it. It is also about family and not to give up on your dreams.

Has “Phantom” Gone Too Far?

I was exposed to “The Phantom of the Opera” at a very young age and have been a huge fan ever since. I saw it first, at the age of 10, and have seen it four more times over the years. It was also the first show I saw on Broadway. This musical has been running for nearly 27 years on Broadway with nearly 15 actors who have portrayed the main role of the Phantom. On January 12, 2015 it was announced that James Barbour would take over the role after current Phantom, Norm Lewis.

After the news of Barbour’s casting was announced, it was fairly exciting. After months of anticipation to find out who would be taking over the most sought out role as the Phantom, fans finally got their big reveal! A very short time later, the “Phantom” fans AKA “Phans,” started to attack James Barbour on social media. It was not because he was replacing Lewis, but because he appears to have a tarnished record. According to this, he was accused of molestation, spent 60 days in jail, and plead guilty of misdemeanor charges.

According to Twitter, there seem to be a lot of upset “Phans” because the majority of them are young women, in their 20’s or younger. Many of them are not happy with the new casting choice and are calling for a change to remove Barbour from the main role. The “Phans” are going as far as tagging the show as well as Andrew Lloyd Webber to make their voice heard. I think the biggest concern from fans is that Barbour would be working with younger women on the show and given his history of molestation, I think I would be too.

I can see why the “Phans” are uncomfortable, it is a very difficult situation, and it is taking the story of “Phantom” to a new level of weird, because the Phantom is a stalker who seduces Christine.

There are many young women, raging from teenagers and up, who love the Phantom. They see the character as this misunderstood man who just wants to be loved. They portray him a romantic character. In the 1980’s, the Phantom was considered a sex icon when the musical first opened. It may or may not cause controversy for Barbour to portray such an intimate role with his history of child molestation.

As a Christian myself, I am not called to make judgments or judge Barbour on his past. I do not know him, and I do not follow his career. What I see is a man who is looking for a second chance, and “The Phantom of the Opera” is a popular musical, therefore a potential fresh start for Barbour. I would hope that the decision by Webber to hire Barbour was one taken very seriously given his history of child molestation.

Do I agree with his past actions? Absolutely not, but it is not my place to judge him because of that alone.

“Billy Elliot” Live review

liam-mower-and-elliott-hanna-91378

Liam Mower (older Billy) and Billy Hanna (Billy) in the number “Swan Lake.”

“Billy Elliot Live” was filmed on September 28, 2014 and screened in several European countries and North America. It stars Broadway and West End star, Ruthie Henshall as Mrs. Wilkinson, Elliot Hanna as Billy Elliot, David Muscat as Mr. Braithwaithe and one of the three original West End Billy Elliots, Liam Mower as older Billy. The DVD was released on November 24, 2014 in the United Kingdom.

The storyline of “Billy Elliot” was amazing, along with the music and the actors were phenomenal. Hanna is an amazing dancer and singer. One of his best performances was “Angry Dance,” in which Billy lets out all of his anger in a powerful dance number, which is nothing short of amazing. One of the most beautiful numbers in the musical is “Swan Lake,” a moving and beautifully choreographed number that Billy dances to with older Billy.

Henshall as Mrs. Wilkinson was absolutely amazing. She did a fantastic job delivering the humor and tenderness to the character. One of her best numbers was “Born to Boogie,” a trio along with Hanna and Muscat. Henshall did a great job acting in the musical and her voice is nothing short of amazing.

Deka Walmsley did a great job as Billy’s dad, Jackie Elliot, a drunken man still grieving over the loss of his wife and only wants what is best for his two sons. Walmsley and Chris Grahamson (Tony Elliot) did a great job in “He Could Be a Star,” a very moving song between father and son. Ann Embry, who just retired, did a great job ad the Grandma, very humorous and a lovely voice.

I have never seen this musical before and watching it for the first time, I fell in love with it. There were two songs in the musical that made me cry they were so sad and beautiful, “The Letter (Mum’s Letter)” and “The Letter (Billy’s Reply).” “Billy Elliot” is a powerful story about community, family, finding yourself and standing up for what you believe in, in a time when a boy doing ballet was scoffed upon.

Idina Menzel’s New Years Eve 2014 Performance

Moet & Chandon Toasts 2015 As The Official Champagne Of New Year's Eve In Times Square

On January 31, 2014 actress, Broadway star and Tony winner, Idina Menzel sang her “Frozen” hit “Let It Go” at New York Times Square. During the song she sounded a bit off and completely missed the high note at the end of the song, which is “Let the storm rage ooooooooon.”

Idina Menzel is a very popular (“Wicked” pun) artist and actress, so naturally she has millions of fans, literally if you look her up on Facebook. After her performance fans on social media came to her defense about it, her non-fans bashed her. The non-fans went from bashing her singing voice, as far as to go into her personal life, meaning her divorce with Taye Diggs, which was too far. Fans went as far as to hate on the non-fans and confront them. The truth that most fans are not willing to admit is that she did indeed have an off night, it happens. Fans took it too far in defending and non-fans went too far on the hate they gave her and her fans as well.

While I am a fan of Idina, I had to keep an open mind about the performance and truth to be told, it was not her best. What people need to remember is that she is human and she does make mistakes. I could make excuses like, it was snowing and windy, she performs eight shows a week on “If/Then,” etc. The honest truth is, once again, it was not her best performance.

The hate and serious defense got so bad that I had to log off of twitter that night. We all need to, in the words of Idina Menzel, let it go.