Not in a bad way though! Actually, it was a really good weekend. On Saturday night, Larry & I went out with Paras & Carey to catch a production of “Little Shop of Horrors” at the Cupcake Theater in Hollywood. Now, I don’t think we were ready for the small size of the theater, as it IS a small small venue, but damn – the performances and the talent on display for that performance was incredible. I think I may have seen part of the movie a long time ago, so I didn’t really remember the story or the songs (except for the main theme song). Fantastic songs (by the same songwriting team behind such phenomenal books for things like “Beauty and the Beast” and “Aladdin”) and quite creative staging and the fun of the Audrey II plant performance was inspired. I’m ready to watch our Blu-Ray of the movie and Larry got the soundtrack. Big fan of “Suddenly Seymour.” We all went out afterwards for a few drinks right there on Hollywood Blvd and damn – that’s a shitshow! Got really buzzed at FiveOFour, a New Orleans “inspired” bar, until it got to be a bit much for us once the regular crowd started flowing in around 11. Got one last drink at El Scorpion before it was time. to. go. Home is so wonderful sometimes!
Oct 25, 2014 – Out at the Cupcake Theater for “Little Shop of Horrors”
Then today, we made it to the Americana for some movie goodness, catching a showing of St Vincent. This movie has been getting a great number of glowing reviews and after seeing it this afternoon, it’s clear why. It’s a very well-told story about some people who are doing the best they can as well as Bill Murray’s eponymous character, Vincent. He’s a hard-to-love kind of guy but through the events of the movie, you find out there’s more to the story. Key to it all is the young actor who plays Oliver, who ends up by happenstance spending a lot of time with him. He delivers a great performance that is vital to selling the whole picture. Melissa McCarthy and Naomi Watts round out the wonderful cast in what turns out to have a few really high emotional payoffs. It’s also one of the funniest movies out right now. Very good and you should go see this if you can. It’s definitely Oscar bait.
Anyway, after the movie, we went to our favorite dumpling place nearby, Dim Tai Fung. SOOOO GOOOD. So here are some pics of our evening at Americana!
And that’s that! I’ve been sharpening my SQL skills this weekend as well as playing around in this powerful data visualization tool called Tableau. And then I’ve been trying to fit in time to play my most recent PC game acquisition, Civilization: Beyond Earth. It’s the next iteration of Civ V, but you’re playing all on the new world the human race is trying to colonize. It’s a bit overwhelming, especially in the tech tree/web section, as you can expand nearly any direction you want.
Yesterday Larry & I went to see The Book of Mormon musical at the Pantages, along with a good group of friends. It’s spent a few months here at the Pantages while on its national tour, and we all were like, we HAVE to see it. Whenever Larry & I have been back in NYC, it’s still always sold out or whatever tickets are left are easily over $200. It was a much more reasonable price here in LA and we ended up having amazing tickets in the orchestra section.
The show was definitely worth the wait and just as funny as everyone has said it was. It is from Matt Parker and Trey Stone (the South Park guys) so you know it isn’t going to be anything less than outrageous. While the show is ridiculously funny, especially in Act II (at least that was my feeling), I still can’t say if the music and songs themselves are especially noteworthy. The first and last songs have fantastic callbacks to each other with the “Hello, I’m…” hook and those are super catchy, but I can’t say that it has other songs besides those that are ones you’ll find yourself humming after it’s over. So when I get back to the official Broadway rankings I’ve made, it won’t make the top spot, but I think it will be still pretty high up there.
Anyway, I took some pics from last night at the restaurant we went to beforehand (that’s a story I really don’t think I care to get into – good food yet majorly lacking service is the abbreviated version); here they are!
Did I really not see any musicals in 2012???? Yes, it’s true (No – it’s not – I forgot that we did see the Priscilla musical during 2012). Â I noted that in the previous 2011 updateÂ Â that moving to LA put the brakes on a lot of my Broadway-going and that was not a wrong assessment. Â I’ve managed to make it to the Hollywood Bowl a few times but touring productions in LA are ridiculously expensive and the few times I’ve been back to NYC, we just never made it to a show. Â Well, this past visit to NYC was different, dammit! Â We made it out and saw Annie on our last night there and it completely blew my mind. Â My expectations were so low because I thought it’d be a sad retread of the movie, which I hadn’t seen in forever and had hazy, indistinct memories of. Â So after that joyous excursion, I felt it was time to re-look at this listing and update accordingly.
- Les Miserables/Les Miserables 25th AnniversaryÂ (Pasadena, San Antonio, London / Los Angeles): If you havenâ€™t seen it, then you havenâ€™t seen the best musical ever.Â Maybe itâ€™s a tad overdramatic at times, but I defy you to not be sobbing into your hankey more than once throughout this amazing show.Â The music is instantly memorable, the staging is highly inventive and awesome, and the sheer bombasticness of it all allowed this decision to be quite easy.Â I’ve also added the recent 25th Anniversary edition that has been trotted out here. Â The songs are all the same so I can’t really classify it as anything different, they just made a fantastic update to how the musical is staged. Â It’s amazing…still.
- Avenue QÂ (New York x3):Â A musical with foul-mouthed puppets and all-too-human people.Â Itâ€™s been referred to as the Sesame Street for Adults, and thatâ€™s hard to argue with.Â Itâ€™s filled with hilarious songs that are all relatable to everyone who has grown up into an adult.Â Plus, these songs are again all instantly memorable.Â You may see a theme that those musicals up at the top for me most importantly have songs that I remember or want to hear again.Â Thatâ€™s very key to my enjoyment of a musical.
- The Lion KingÂ (New York): An amazing surprise, especially since itâ€™s a Disney production.Â I was expecting shlocky or tacky, but its redemption is because Julie Taymor was responsible for it.Â The show blows you away with its effective use of the already amazing songs and extremely creative staging.Â It felt very tribal too, making it all the better.
- Mamma Mia!Â (London, Las Vegas x2, Colorado Springs, New York):Â How can you not walk away from this musical with a smile and an extreme love of ABBA?Â Iâ€™ve seen this musical 5 times. Iâ€™d go see it again in a heartbeat.Â Great music, exuberant performances, and a â€œWaterlooâ€ finale!Â Yeah, thereâ€™s absolutely nothing wrong with this musical, even if it paved the way for the Jukebox musical thatâ€™s currently wearing out its welcome in Broadway.
- AnnieÂ Â (New York):Â 2013 Addition -Â Larry wanted to see this while we were in NYC during January 2013. Â The other candidates at the time were either repeats or highly impossible to get tickets to (I’m looking at you, Book of Mormon and Once). Â I was happy to indulge this choice but prepared myself to be just mildly entertained while having to sit with a bunch of children, as this show is definitely marketed for kids. Â I can admit when I am wrong though – this show blew my mind. Â The movie version from the 80s is one thing, but seeing the stage production is quite another. Â The songs are almost all fantastic and refuse to leave your head. Â In fact, guess who purchased the 30th Anniversary album on iTunes that night? Â This guy. Â Gems like “You’re Never Fully Dressed Without a Smile” and “I Don’t Need Anything But You” help temper the cheesy-yet-still-awesome songs like “Tomorrow” and “Hard-Knock Life”.
- La Cage Aux FollesÂ (New York): Â Known as The Birdcage in the movies, so if you know that movie, you’ll know the overall story about a gay couple whose son brings home his fiancee and her conservative family. Â Themes of intolerance and acceptance ensue. Â The performance run of this with Kelsey Grammar and Douglas Hodge was outstanding. Â They had amazing chemistry and their renditions of the songs were fabulous. Â It’s now closed, but I’ll always feel lucky to have seen it for myself. Â “The Best of Times Are Now” is still on my iTunes playlist and never fails to cheer me up, especially when I think of the performance accompanying it.
- Joseph & the Amazing Technicolor DreamcoatÂ (Los Angeles, San Antonio): One of the first musicals I ever saw.Â It was a colorful (naturally) overwhelming experience to behold and the songs were nothing but infectious.Â They still are.Â Itâ€™s of course a little goofy in hindsight, but you canâ€™t deny the fun factor, especially when the Pharoah busts out Elvis moves.Â Another musical though that has fantastic songs I wanted to hear immediately again. As we get further down this list, expect less and less of thatâ€¦.
- West Side StoryÂ (New York): One of my favorite musical movies, which of course was adapted from an original musical.Â This iteration was a revival with some twists like â€œI Feel Prettyâ€ and â€œA Boy Like Thatâ€ sung in Spanish and â€œSomewhereâ€ staged with a dream-child that could be Maria and Tonyâ€™s in a future theyâ€™ll never have.Â The music is already known by everyone, so the key is the staging and the performances.Â West Side Story was almost perfect, but for the lead who plays Tony in this staging.Â He is gorgeousâ€¦GORGEOUSâ€¦.but way way way way way tooo Broadway for the role.Â For me, itâ€™s important that you fall into the illusion theyâ€™re real people singing real feelingsâ€¦not an actor singing his lines up on stage. Ah well.
- WickedÂ (New York):Â Yeah yeah yeahâ€¦.this show is STILL sold out every night and itâ€™s been almost 7 years since it came out.Â I loved the book and couldnâ€™t wait to see this musical when I got the chance.Â But unfortunately, it is a musical that has AMAZING scenery, performances and staging yet has almost a completely generic soundtrack.Â Yes, there is of course â€œDefying Gravityâ€ and â€œPopularâ€, which are awesome.Â But the rest of the songs?Â Eh.Â And that is very disappointing.
- How to Succeed in Business Without Really TryingÂ (New York): Â We saw this when we went back to NYC in May 2011 as it was one of the few we could actually get decently-priced tickets to. Â I was excited about seeing it as they had been performing the scene “Brotherhood of Men” on a lot of talk shows and it was very compelling, as well as swanky with its 1960s retro cool vibe all over. Â It was an entertaining show with amazing dancing, good-looking men, and some catchy songs; Â a surprisingly good performance from Harry Potter/Daniel Radcliffe and a hilarious one by John Larroquette were bonuses.
- Billy ElliotÂ (New York): Â Now that I’ve come down from the high of having just seen the show when I wrote about it in 2010, I have to say that I can’t remember a single song from it. Â So yeah, that is a sign that the show maybe isn’t perfect. Â But I do remember having an amazing feeling after seeing it, so it did a good job there. Â But it doesn’t deserve being above some of the others above, at least in my view.
- Rock of AgesÂ (New York):Â Jukebox musical?Â Check.Â Extremely awesome and fun?Â CHECK.Â Itâ€™s all covers of extremely cheesy rock from the 80s, but damn if you arenâ€™t having a blast the entire show.Â You even get a damn fake LED lighter to use when they sing the ballads.Â Itâ€™s fun, doesnâ€™t take itself seriously, and the performances are fantastic.Â Lots of fun doesnâ€™t overcome the fact that itâ€™s still an opportunistic jukebox musical though, which is why itâ€™s relatively low on my list.
- Promises, PromisesÂ (New York): Â This revival starring Sean Hayes (Just Jack!) and Kristin Chenoweth was very charming, and also utilized the fabulous 1960s vibe, which was definitely a trend in 2010 musicals it seemed. Â The leads were good but the story is really kind of depressing when you get down to it (it’s a musical of movie, The Apartment). Â So it helped to have a glitzy set, charming songs, and a hilarious Tony-winning performance from a scene-stealing actress who comes along in the second act to cheer you up. Â Her owl calls alone won her that Tony, I tell ya.
- Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (New York): 2013 Addition – So in my initial draft of this Jan 2013 listing, I completely forgot that Larry & I had seen this in 2012. Â It was one of those where Larry’s mom was able to get us a decent price on really good seats, so we happily went as this was one of those shows that got lots of love for just being so much fun. Â You know what? Â It really was. Â It’s one of those I can’t really remember the songs besides the fact they were a lot of covers from the original film, which places it kind of low on the listing due to my arcane rules. Â BUT! Â The sheer amazing glitziness of it all and pure camp factor along with the story and associated memories of the movie made this quite an entertaining show. Â The over-the-top nature of the sets and production (that bus! Â that shoe! Â those costumes! Â the drag queens! Â GLORIOUS!) ensured you were having a blast, unless you got lost going to the wrong show.
- Sunset BoulevardÂ (Los Angeles): Another one of my first musicals, and amazing seats too.Â This had Glenn Close in the lead, so the vocals were okay, but no Patti Lupone.Â But the setâ€¦.oh, the set.Â Dear Lord, the set.Â It was jaw-dropping how they recreated Norma Desmondâ€™s opulent mansion, only for it to float in space in seconds.Â Seriously.Â Some pretty good songs too, but it is Andrew Lloyd Webber, so you get a lot of repetition. Still, I loved the source material so this gets a lot of that goodwill.
- title of showÂ (New York):Â Iâ€™m proud to have given my money to this very cute show.Â Itâ€™s a low budget staging with only 4 cast members, but the songs were funny and the cast was incredible.Â But stillâ€¦.not a lot there.Â I wish I could say I wanted to hear the songs again, but I really didnâ€™t.Â It was one of those shows where the song requires the staging in order for it to be truly entertaining.
- XanaduÂ (New York):Â We didnâ€™t get to see it with Cheyenne Jackson. Fail.Â Itâ€™s hard to overcome that deficit, to be honest, as the show is sooooo silly.Â It was still a lot of fun though, especially for us kitchy gays, but its main draws are the fact that the songs were already known from Olivia Newton John and ELO.Â The source movieâ€¦.Iâ€™ve never seen.Â But I loved that the musical referenced it and mocked it mercilessly, especially the lead femaleâ€™s intentionally silly Australian accent.Â KEEEEEErrrahh.
- We Will Rock YouÂ (Las Vegas):Â Itâ€™s a jukebox musical based on the music of Queen!Â My mom loved it and wanted to see it again, so I went with her.Â It was actually pretty good but again, kind of forgettable, especially in the wake of something like Mamma Mia!. Â I don’t know if this has ever been rumored to come back as Queen music is pretty awesome, but I think it came out far too closely with Mamma Mia and was hurt because of it.
- Phantom of the OperaÂ (New York):Â I donâ€™t get the near universal love that this musical gets.Â Maybe because itâ€™s one of the original blockbuster shows?Â Maybe because Michael Crawford got so famous for singing â€œMusic of the Nightâ€? Â I saw this last year and I just could not get into it.Â It was so SILLY.Â And not in a good way. The songs were ultra-generic and constantly re-utilized.Â Plus seriouslyâ€¦.that bitch Christine is nuts.Â So yeah, this headed to the bottom of the list, especially after in my staging of it, the â€œcrashingâ€ chandelier fell slower than the Peoplemover at Disneyland.Â Itâ€™s hard to buy that the actors were in danger with that.Â I will give props though on the two opening scenes with the way they dramatically reveal the set.Â Especially that reveal of all those people on the staircase in Act 2.
- In The HeightsÂ (New York): Another show that gets nothing but praiseâ€¦yet I really didnâ€™t get into it.Â I really really appreciate the backstory of how the show got made, I do.Â But that alone is not enough for me to then say I loved the show.Â Itâ€™s another one where thereâ€™s not ONE song that I can remember now, let alone remember right after I saw the show.Â And câ€™mon, itâ€™s a musical, you want the audience to remember your songs.Â Do I remember the characters? Yes.Â The Washington Heights life the musical was all about?Â Remembered.Â But thatâ€™s not enough for a musicalâ€¦to me.
- ChicagoÂ (London):Â I know, I know. WTF?Â How can I put this at the bottom?Â Well, because I saw the movie first and thought it was a direct adaptation of the musical.Â I was wrong.Â Very wrong.Â And after seeing the musical, well, I wanted to see the movie again.Â As it was much better.Â Obviously I was probably tainted in this case as I saw the movie first.Â Oh well. My list, my rules.