Category Archives: Awesome!

And then there were three… (in 12 hours)

 So yesterday we broke a personal record  – Three shows, 12 hours! Madness! Which means we’re going to share this blog. So here goes…

Fantasticks-Color

Broadway Show #25: The Fantasticks
Where: The Jerry Orbach Theatre
Seats: Centre Orchestra
Favourite Number: Abduction Ballet
Rating: 7.5/10

Tickets purchased with contributions from: Alison Bruce

T here: This show was… fantastic! 😉 We have a bit of a history with this show – it’s become a discussion topic at Red Leap and many jokes and lots of team charades fun has been had with the “Fanta-sticks”! *you had to be there* So it was really great to finally be able to see the infamous show we’ve talked about for years. And as for Broadway, it’s quite famous too. It’s the longest running Off-Broadway show ever! It’s been running since the 1960s so even if we didn’t have our own relationship to the show, we would have gone just for the historical experience! So we were Off-Broadway for this show and we were in the smallest theatre we’ve been to in NYC – maybe about 100 seats – and there were only 25 or so people in our audience. But it was so beautifully intimate because of this. There was a very small stage (even smaller than The Basement) and the 8 actors filled it with fun and laughter.

20141004_131822

The theatre we were in is named in honour of the man who first played the character of Narrator/ El Gallo, so that’s pretty cool. Our version of this guy, played by Edward Watts, seriously looked like McSteamy (if you watch Grey’s Anatomy then you know who I’m talking about). And he was really charming and sang wonderfully and was funny too. And seriously white teeth. What is it with white teeth in this country?!? They must have some serious chemicals in this country or maybe they just implant fake porcelains regularly.. or something. Crazy white.. Anyway, I digress – this show is an ensemble piece and really hilarious. It was very ‘panto’ which we weren’t expecting and it was like bad American acting but deliberate with how heightened it was so we really enjoyed it. Our favourite characters by far were The Old Actor, Henry (played by MacIntyre Dixon) and his sidekick, The Man Who Dies, Mortimer (played by Michael Nostrand). These roles seem to be the sort of roles that retired actors return to after a long career to have some fun. These guys would have easily been in their 70s and they were hilarious! They are the clown roles of the show so there’s a lot of slapstick and self-referencing that takes place. There’s also a lot of Shakespeare references from the character of Henry which made for even more hilarity for those of us who understood the references. And then Mortimer does exactly what his character description suggests – he’s an actor who is an expert at dying. At he gives a few examples along the way which are great. Much fun was had at this gem!

PhotoGrid_1412525628879

 One Down! Two to go!

Broadway Show #26: Disgraced
Where: Lyceum Theatre
Seats: Centre Balcony
Favourite Moment: The fight
Rating: 9/10

This show forced us to reflect on our ratings a bit because it was the first time that we’ve been to a serious American play and after the experience we really weren’t sure how to compare it to a musical. So we had to rate it on its own merit with a result of a high score. We chose to see this because after seeing Curious Incident… and really enjoying it, we thought perhaps our enjoyment was because we could relate to the “English-ness” of the play, being from NZ, so we wanted to experience an American play to see how different it might be. And what an experience it was. It was like an exceptional ATC or Silo play (we exited feeling similar to our experience of White Rabbit, Red Rabbit). In fact, we’re pretty damn sure that one of those companies will have it on their radar already, especially considering that it won a Pulitzer Prize in 2013. And well deserved too.  To be honest we picked Disgraced half because of the Pulitzer, half because of cast member Josh Radnor from How I Met Your Mother – although neither were relevant by the end.

The play explore its title – disgrace – in relation to race and the American culture and its relationship to religion, in particular Jewish and Islam, and involves discussion on 9/11. But not in an overt way. Rather, it explored regular individuals and how they relate to 9/11 in a deeply personal and revealing way, informed by their own faith. It was incredible how relevant and poignant it was, especially sitting in an American audience. It was like being a fly-on-the-wall witness to a dinner party and hearing conversations that people would ordinarily avoid or politely change topic on. It became heated and the playwright threw strong opinions into the mix, provoking characters and audience alike. We shared many gasps with our audience, especially during possibly the most shocking moment which included some stunning fight choreography.

And the lighting was something like we’ve never seen before. It was like the set designer and lighting designer had collaborated in discussion beautifully. It was all set in one room in an apartment but many days passed during the show and the lighting is what showed the passing of time. in a gorgeous subtle way. The set was built with large windows in the apartment, allowing for “daylight” and “moonlight” to stream through at different times. And there were clever small revolves allowing for seamless set and prop changes. The sound design was also wonderful, covering the passing time scene changes but again, not overtly. All elements were intergrated perfectly.

Chels and I left feeling quite emotional and we’ve been talking about it since. Not entirely sure how it would sit with NZ audiences – we feel like we only understood many classic New York references because we’ve been here for nearly a month and perhaps if we hadn’t been here for that time there’s some little gems that would have flown over our heads. But that would be a minor flaw outside of the overall experience of this show. The playwright, Ayad Akhtar, has written a beautiful provoking piece and it was amazing to sit at the end and see how he had woven all of the elements that only revealed themselves in the final moments. The protagonist was disgraced on his journey, another character gives a speech on disgrace at the end, other characters are disgraced by their opinions flying out of their mouths, and in a way, the audience is disgraced by their experience at the end. It was all very clever. 

PhotoGrid_1412525575997

And what a strange and wonderful night to go from that experience, onwards to our final show of the evening.. 

enhanced-buzz-11501-1376607329-15

Broadway Show #27: Rocky Horror Picture Show
Where: Chelsea Cleaview Cinema
Seats: Side Orchestra
Favourite Number: Science Fiction/Double Feature
Rating: 8/10

Chelsea here, I am taking over for this review! We met with our wonderful friend Natalie and missioned down to the Clearview cinema in Chelsea for a midnight screening of the RHPS! This show had performers acting out the show in front of the screen in beautifully created costumes and great props! What was fantastic though was the lines that were yelled back to the screen during the movie, which is something that has spawned out of the cult following from when the midnight screenings started in 1976 because the content of the show wasn’t widely accepted –these days everyone has relaxed their moral code a bit but at this cinema EVERY Friday and Saturday night this group of performers perform to/with a full cinema.

PhotoGrid_1412527687560

Some examples of the screen responses:

In the back row: [front row: “Screw the back row!” while standing] [back row: “Screw the Front Row!” while standing]

Brad: I’ve got something to say. [“It’s a musical, sing it a**hole”]

Brad: Hi, my name is Brad Majors, and this is my fiancée, Janet Weiss. [“Brad, spell ‘urinate’ in shorthand.”] you are… [“Close enough.”]

Brad: Hospitality!? [echo “Horse brutality!?”] All we asked was to use your telephone.

There were also great physical moments – a crew member in the opening credits of the film had the last name Pointing, so a group ran down to the screen and pointed at it; there was a camera tilt upwards for a tie climbing moment; and there is a Crew Member called ‘Sue Blaine’ so throughout the whole show whenever anyone said “Who’s to blame?” everyone yelled “Sue’s to Blame!”.

Also, Natalie added us to the Virgin line (Virgin’s referring to the fact that it was our first time seeing the show) so we all were branded with big lipstick V’s resulting in friendly torment and some rather awkward audience participation. Thanks Natalie. I laughed until I cried and got the hiccups – in summary, extremely hard to explain but BRILLIANT night!!

IMG_20141005_122043

So much love!

T & C
x

 

New York, New York… It’s a Helluva Town!

The last couple of days have been filled with adventure and two fantastic shows!

We began by continuing with the Great American Carousel Tour of 2014 with #5 at Central Park!

PhotoGrid_1412401341380

In fact on Thursday we spent the whole day at Central Park and it was truly wonderful. We hired a couple of bikes down the road from the park and cycled around all day, stopping at the carousel, the John Lennon Imagine memorial and the Alice statue and then we parked up opposite the Belvedere Castle and had a picnic on our Derek Jeter yankee blanket. We sat there by the turtle pond, gazing at the view around us, with New York City in the background and we thought “who does this?!”. We just can’t get over the fact that we’re in our dream city, spending time together with no work to distract us. It’s pretty special and we’re feeling very lucky! After we delivered our bikes back on the way into town, we found the LOVE statue and made friends with a couple of tourists who took our photo with it.

PhotoGrid_1412401596698

Then it was on to our next show..

banner_cabaret

Broadway Show #23: Cabaret
Where: Studio 54
Seats: Centre Mezzanine
Favourite Number: Wilkommen
Rating: 9/10

Tickets purchased with contributions from: A. Nony. Mouse

PhotoGrid_1412376089387We got to meet up with our friend Natalie for this show and we had such a fantastic night! Before the show even started the usher of the theatre moved our row from the cheapest seats at the back of the house to the centre of the mid-Mez so that was the first bonus! We ended up with amazing seats. And then the show… I have so much I want to say about this that I’m going to have to choose otherwise I’ll rant for years. But it was AMAZING. I loved it so much. Firstly, being in Studio 54 was pretty great and what they’ve done to the space is really cool. I have managed to find a time lapse of how they built the stage to make it look magical (including THE biggest mirror ball we’ve ever seen in our lives. I don’t even think this clip shows just how big it was but it might give you an idea) and the camera just happens to be about where we were sitting for the night:

And then, what can I say? Just… Alan Cumming. He is incredible. And was more than incredible on the night! I keep trying to find clips on YouTube to give you an idea of just how great he was and how great the show was but I keep finding the original season when he first played the role. Which apparently was amazing too but it doesn’t seem to do justice to our experience. Basically, the show was sexy and sassy (everything Chicago should have been) and epic and intimate and heartbreaking and beautiful and funny. The choreo was really awesome (there’s even a number where the six dancers are smoking cigars around Alan C – I bet that would hurt the lungs after a while!) and they utilised the spaces around the stage really well. The band was awesome and very much a part of the action – some of them were ensemble dancers, singers AND players in the band. I mean, come on, some people just have too much talent in one body!! But seriously, the band were great. And very much a feature of the show. And most of the time they played around the stage without any music in front of them. The conductor was playing the piano as well so she conducted/played with one hand (as you do!). [And actually, on a side note, it was really cool seeing a female conductor.] And the rest of the cast were awesome too – the older couple in particular (played by Linda Emond and Danny Burstein) were so beautiful and funny and their story was truly heartbreaking in the end. And the ensemble were multi-talented amazing individuals. We had the understudy for Sally Bowles, so no Michelle Williams for us (not sure what she would have been like) and it was the first time we weren’t taken by a cover. I mean, she did the job fine but she wasn’t great and we concluded (together with Natalie who actually saw the Auckland version in 2011) that our friend Mandy, who played Sally Bowles in Auckland, would be amazing and then we pictured her opposite Alan Cumming and thought that would just be magical (one day Mandy!). So…yes. In conclusion I was excited and moved and inspired by this show. It’s so hard to put into words just how fantastic it was but I’m sure you get the idea. Now, there’s plenty of stuff on YouTube for this show (in fact, there’s an entire Sam Mendes directed film of the original season but it looks like it’s quite different, although I’m sure it would give a fairly good idea of the show and the theatre stage looks the same from what I can tell) but I can’t really find a decent clip of the current season except for this short montage but hoping that it gives you some idea and if you want more, go exploring on YouTube..

Oh yes, and I forgot to mention that the three of us managed to meet Alan Cumming afterwards and he autographed our playbills! So that was a pretty awesome fan girl moment for us all..

PhotoGrid_1412401240806

So! Moving on to Friday (realising this is going to be a long blog again.. whoopsie.. excitement rants take up space!) and we went exploring in Brooklyn this time..

IMG_7686

..adding carousel #6 to the tour! This one was pretty special because we had a great view of Manhatten while we were riding.

PhotoGrid_1412399347067

We then went for a walk over the Brooklyn Bridge which was really cool and the sun was setting so we got amazing views of Lady Liberty and the East River and Manhatten. We also took a padlock and added our “lovelock” to the bridge, following the footsteps of many before us (although not as many as the time we added a lock to the tower gate in Busan)..

IMG_7708 IMG_7724 IMG_7755 IMG_7763 IMG_7809

We got to the other side of the bridge and got a New York hot dog for dinner (as recommended by our tour bus guide on the “how to go on a classic New York date” advice) and then headed to meet our friend Jess for our next show..

event_media-banner_lrg

Broadway Show #24: On the Town
Where: Lyric Theatre
Seats: Centre Balcony
Favourite Number: Carried Away
Rating: 8.769253*/10

Tickets purchased with contributions from: Jess Gerz, Lauren Law

*As a side note, we weren’t going to add decimals beyond .5’s, to keep our scores clean and easy. But I promised Jess that his rating would go on our blog exactly as he said it. We agreed that the show should get at least an 8.5 but he wanted to push it up closer to 9 (but we agreed not quite a 9 because other shows have been more of a 9) and so we did. The End.

PhotoGrid_1412398980161

Well this show was really great! Finally Chels and I have seen what we call “old-school” Broadway. There is so much dancing in this show and they’ve kept it very much in the older style of musical theatre. It’s the first time (and probably the last in NYC) that we’ve seen this much dancing on the stage and the classic style of let’s tell the story, now let’s stop to do a big dance number, now let’s continue to tell the story (instead of the integrated musicals we see these days). And the dancing was awesome! Huge ballet numbers with muscly guys and beautiful girls (one of the leading ladies has actually come from the New York City ballet company!) and huge flips and spins and lifts and twirls and running all over the stage.. it was really great. The cast was huge and the orchestra is currently the largest on Broadway – apparently a good reason why we don’t see these classic shows on stage anymore, because they cost too much. We had been thinking that this show might finally show us some decent tap but it turns out (Jess informed us) that the tap dancing was only added to the film because the leading lady was a tap star and would only do the film if she was able to dance (and it totally works for Gene Kelly too right?!). So no tap for us. Apparently it’s quite out of fashion on Broadway currently so possibly The Book of Mormon is about what we will get on this trip. But the ballet was just as incredible to tell the truth. And we had such a great time watching the classic style and feeling like we were seeing Gene Kelly on the stage! Our favourite number, ‘Carried Away’, had a dancing dinosaur (yes, Kirsty, you read that right!) and was definitely a highlight! But I think the best thing of all had to be the dancing and the sheer physicality of the performers. They were amazing! Now, I can’t actually find a decent YouTube clip for you to see the show as we did (not even a good trailer!) and there’s lots of clips of the first time they staged this show before it moved to Broadway. But I promise our version was bigger and better. What I did find though was a sort of preview clip from their rehearsals that give you an idea of the variation in song and dance that we saw. Pretty old school and pretty awesome. Love it.

Enough from me!

Tx

Princesses, Puppets and Coffee

So! Tuesday! We went on a tour of Upper Manhattan, Harlem and the Bronx. It was great and it officially means we have done a bit of exploring of all five boroughs during this trip – win. Now, I could give you a blog full of pictures of historic buildings and all the history around them because I am a big history nerd but I’m not going to. Instead, I am going to put up a few pictures that I took during the tour of normal buildings that I just liked the look of. Much more interesting:

IMG_7485IMG_7521

IMG_7508IMG_7512

Tuesday night we went and saw Cinderella. To be honest it was originally on our B list… maybe even our C list… but we have had great reviews on it from some of our industry buddies and there was a great deal on tickets so we thought, well, why not?

Cinderella-banner

Broadway Show #21: Cinderella
Where: Broadway Theatre
Seats: Centre Mezzanine
Favourite Number: Do I Love You Because You Are Beautiful?
Rating: 8/10

This was surprisingly good. Unexpectedly good. It was actually the first time we’ve sat in a theatre that isn’t jam packed full, so that was new. But there was a good energy in the audience despite numbers and the show filled the room with RnH (Rodgers & Hammerstein) happiness all evening. The music reminded us a bit of The Sound of Music (funny that) and had a real bounce to it throughout, with lots of catchy tunes and numbers.

We were actually a part of something recent to Broadway as well – they’ve changed the cast to an African-American Cinderella (Keke Palmer) and stepmother (Sherri Shepherd), to mix it up for  all the little princesses out there (and there were a lot there in their dresses and crowns! Cute!) And the Cinderella is only 21! She’s apparently a bit of a TV star and we noticed that she wasn’t as well-trained as the other performers on stage in voice or performing, which made for an interesting difference and we enjoyed seeing someone a little less “Broadway” on the stage and it suited the character not to be as refined as the other performers.

The show has an updated book and the script was actually really funny in some parts – modernised in a similar fashion to Aladdin. But above all the highlight had to be the incredible costume changes – three times we saw a character transformed from rags to riches right in front of our eyes and each time was more amazing than the previous. It was really cool and after the show we spent all night watching YouTube clips, trying to figure out just how they did it! This show put us on a little bit of a high, after enjoying ourselves much more than we expected!

PhotoGrid_1412259432414

Yesterday it was raining – not that it got us down! We went and joined the (surprisingly short) queue to go into the pop-up Friends replica café! We are huge fans of the TV show (I mean really, who isn’t?) and it was great!

PhotoGrid_1412259502669

We made friends with all the security guards, saw the collection of costumes and props (we have lots of photos for other fans who want more!) and got our photo taken on the infamous Central Perk couch. Very cool.

IMG_20141001_132008

From there we decided to stay in theme and missioned back to Greenwich to find the building they used for the exterior of the apartment building in the show on the corner of Bedford and Grove. Then because I had done my research, we were able to find the exterior of Ross (and Ugly Naked Guy)’s apartment exterior. And because we were in the area we popped into the Stonewall Inn for a beer and to check out the ‘Birthplace of Gay Pride’. Love it. Oh and we found the Big Gay Ice Cream Store. Brilliant.

PhotoGrid_1412259555842

We had a lovely catchup with our friend Julia from home who has moved over to study in NYC before dashing to our next show..

266f8005372b5248c1e0953362132f157cafa21d

Broadway Show #22: Avenue Q
Where: New World Stages
Seats: Centre Orchestra
Favourite Number: If You Were Gay
Rating: 8/10

I was fortunate enough to see this show when I was in the UK, so I am going to hand it over to Theresa for this review as it was her first time:

 This is funny and naughty and puppets and musical all rolled into one – who wouldn’t have a good time?! It’s like Sesame Street on drugs, or drunk, and just being honest about life and all it’s fun and foibles. The guy (Michael Liscio, Jr) who played the main male puppets – Princeton & Rod – worked his butt off and was really amazing. He was sweating up a storm in the first act as he ran around the stage switching between his different characters. Awesome. And the actress (Veronica J. Kuehn) who played Kate Monster and Lucy was amazing and definitely our highlight for the evening.

I find it hard to choose between them all. Especially because in actual Sesame Street I love the voice of the Cookie Monster and there’s a character based on him called Trekkie Monster and the actor playing him (Jason Jacoby) does the voice perfectly! In fact, they were all great. Six actors on stage running around like crazy between different scenes and puppets and they were all fantastic. We had a thoroughly great time!

PhotoGrid_1412259705005

Got to run! Time for a bike ride!

C
x

Superblog: Four Shows in Three Days Makes For a Busy Time!

We’ve been so incredibly busy the last few days that this could make for an EPIC blog but I’ll try to keep it brief! It feels like we’ve seen a lot of theatre in the last few days, amongst our other adventures so here we go..

2

It was pouring with rain on Thursday so we decided to stick to indoor activities. We headed out to Grand Central Station and took their audio tour which tells you all about the history of the building and gives you fun little facts as you walk around. It’s such a beautiful piece of architecture and it was some nice calm for our ear drums amongst the thousands of people swishing by us as we wandered. We wrapped our time at the station with lunch at the very American Shake Shack, which was pretty good, but nothing on Five Guys burgers (more on that another time). We also went to a shop called Forbidden Planet, which has a lot of sci-fi stuff and collectibles for geeks like us. We picked up a couple of Whovian things for Chels and then headed to Times Square via the Magnolia Bakery (yummy recommendation from Katie and Dave) and of course the subway, where we came across one of the regular characters who wears a drum kit and plays guitar in a similar fashion to Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins. He sings pretty badly but he’s entertaining.

1

And then we headed to our show for the day..

aladdin-banner

Broadway Show #16: Aladdin
Where: New Amsterdam Theatre
Seats: Front Balcony
Favourite number: You Ain’t Never Had A Friend Like Me
Rating: 8.5/10

Tickets purchased with contributions from: Tiffany Kalin, Lauren Law

Okay this was seriously COOL. We had so much FUN with this show! The script is all updated from the movie which was the first bonus – there’s still all of the recognisable lines but like the movie Frozen, they now have a self-referential script that talks about the fact that you’re watching them on a Broadway stage – for example, genie accidentally pulls out a Statue of Liberty souvenir from his pocket instead of the lamp when you first meet him (and explains that he did a little tourist shopping before the show); the Jasmine character is all updated to want to have an “equal relationship with a man of her choice”; the Sultan talks about the challenges of marriage and making it last… etc, etc. It’s all very funny and much more aimed at adults than we expected – just like the Disney movies can be enjoyed by adults and children alike.

The genie was most definitely our favourite. We LOVED him and can’t rave enough about how much he deserved his Tony. The clip below is from the Tony Awards this year where he performed before receiving his Tony (Best Performance by an Actor in a Featured Role in a Musical) and the clip doesn’t even do justice to how spectacular he was in the show. He carries the spirit of the original genie (Robin Williams) beautifully but he has also made the character his own – he’s a sassy black man who cracks jokes all of the time (there’s a lot of new material as well as the original jokes) and he works SO HARD on that stage dancing, singing, changing costumes, running around like a crazy – he is truly amazing and it was such a joy to watch him perform.

3

***

Friday was a fun-filled day as we headed to 5th Avenue to look at all of the shops that we could never afford (we even went inside Tiffany’s!). Our favourite by far was the infamous FAO Schwarz which is three levels of magic! Honestly, we felt like kids in this store. There was every toy you could ever want and crazily affordable, especially compared to the rest of the shops! We can’t get over how much more expensive things are at home. Even with the conversion rate, toys are so cheap here compared to NZ! Again, it’s pretty lucky we don’t live here otherwise I would definitely have left with a giant gorilla (as tall as me!) and Chels would have gone home with the Lego Statue of Liberty. We visited Zoltar, who’s in the shop, and got our fortunes told again but no wishes from us (we didn’t want to become Tom Hanks..).

4

We decided because we were dressed up for our show that we would go to a nice rooftop bar that Chels had been told about – Haven. It was really neat. The view of the city was great and the atmosphere was lovely. Reminded us a bit of Southern Cross in Welly. A perfect entrée to our show for the evening.

5

Then we headed to the Met(!) to see an opera..

boheme 2

Broadway Show #17: La Boheme
Where: The Metropolitan Opera
Seats: Family Circle
Favourite number: Act II Finale
Rating: 7/10

Tickets purchased with contributions from: A. Nony. Mouse

This was a really wonderful experience to have over here because I worked on this show with New Zealand Opera just this year and so I was really excited to see it in a different country on a much larger scale. And that’s exactly what we got – the Met provides an extraordinary scale compared to NZ. The sheer size of the theatre is already double the size of our largest theatre in Auckland (4300 seats) and the stage has four substages where they shift between humungous sets for each act. It was amazing just to see the different settings for each quarter of the show. Of course it does mean that there is an interval between each act, so that can get a bit draining but the pay off is worth it.

The music was beautiful and the acting was great. It helps that I know the opera inside-out and back-to-front, considering it’s performed in Italian. I think it was slightly more challenging for Chels to get into it because of how unfamiliar she is with it. But that’s what happens for us with opera – it’s always much easier once you’ve studied the text! We both enjoyed Act II the best because there was just so much to look at – the market was enormous, there were huge numbers of people (they employ over a hundred “supers” – extras for the stage – for each of their shows), there were horses (REAL horses!) and the march at the end was made up of a huge band. It was really great! The clip above gives some idea of how big the finale was.

6

All in all it was a wonderful experience and it was really special being inside the infamous Met.

***

cas

Yesterday we met up with Cassie, a friend from university, in the morning at a wonderful bakery/café called Tisserie. It was so great and the food was delicious! We had such a lovely time catching up with her and then we walked together to our next show..

CastingAnnouncementTheCuriousIncidentOfTheDogInTheNightTime

Broadway Show #18: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
Where: Ethel Barrymore Theatre
Seats: Rear Balcony
Favourite moment: The Escalator
Rating: 9/10

Tickets purchased with contributions from: Trieu Family

This play was SPECTACULAR. The story, of course (for those of you who haven’t read the book – read it!), is beautiful and engaging and moving. And the show was no less of an experience. They’ve really brought the story to life in such a fantastic way.

The show is born out of the National Theatre of London and is currently in previews on Broadway so we got the tickets really cheap. But we would have paid more for that experience! We can’t rave enough – it was SO GOOD. The actors were amazing and the movement (it’s a physical theatre piece) is incredible, so inspiring. The set is a whole character on its own – it moves in all sorts of directions and things open and pop out and drop out and light up…amazing. And speaking of lighting up, the AV is the most incredible design I’ve ever experienced. I mean sure, they would have a sizeable budget for this show, but it’s the first time I’ve seen AV where it is properly and invisibly integrated into the show in a way that doesn’t interfere. And it’s perfect for the autistic themes running through the piece – it’s like seeing the inside of Christopher’s (main character) brain. And our Christopher, played by Taylor Trensch, was a heartbreaker, completely wonderful. And he carries the whole show, working his butt off for the two hours. It’s no wonder he shares the role with another guy throughout the week.

And just like the book, Christopher is a wonderful character that we fall in love with and root for throughout the whole story. And just like the book, we empathise with him and equally empathise with his parents and teachers who are living with an autistic child. It’s fantastic – there are not enough adjectives to describe how much we truly enjoyed this experience.

ci

And for those of you who aren’t travelling anytime soon to New York or London, the show is actually coming to NZ on the National Theatre Live series – which is a programme where they film live theatre shows from London and then screen them in cinemas worldwide. You might think that it’s not worth seeing a theatre show in a cinema but I’ve seen two shows this way now and the way they film it, you couldn’t get that kind of view from a theatre seat. I highly recommend you find out the National Theatre Live screening of this show in your town and see it. It’ll be worth it! Oh, and read the book too – you won’t regret it.

IMG_20140927_220756

After that show, we headed out to Lower Manhatten and found ourselves on GAY ST! We checked out a bit of the LGBT area and shops and then met up with our friend Jess for dinner and a stroll through Washington Park before our next show..

 solitary light

Broadway Show #19: Solitary Light
Where: AxisTheatre
Seats: General Seating
Favourite number: Firefly
Rating: 7/10

Tickets provided by: Jess Gerz

Jess, who lives in New York, is a costume designer and is currently the Asst Costume Designer and Wardrobe Supervisor of an off-Broadway production – Solitary Light. He offered us tickets to see this gem and we were really excited not only to see his work in action but also to tick off another NYC show experience – watching something off-off-Broadway.

This show is about a factory fire that took place in 1911, which killed 146 garment workers at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory. Jess told us a bit about the history including that the reason the workers died is because the owners had locked the doors from the inside to keep the employees all working overtime. So when the fire broke out, they couldn’t escape and many tried to jump from the ninth floor of the building to get out… pretty grim really. But apparently this event is what helped lawmakers to bring in rules on child labour and better working conditions with unions. So I guess that’s the light at the end of the tunnel..

The show was really beautiful. It was only an hour long and we could have sat there listening to their singing for longer. It is amazing to us the overflow of talent in this city. There are an endless number of performers who are working their butts off, waiting in diners (including singing diners!) to earn a buck and they’ll do anything to get work and practice their craft in the hope that they’ll get their break on the bigger stages, moving from community theatres to off-Broadway to Broadway. This cast was no exception – they had crystal clear voices that were really beautiful and they shone in their harmonies, which were aplenty.

The score was great too. It was folksy with guitar, cello, violin and piano and really catchy – in a good way. We especially loved the number ‘Firefly’ because the harmonies were truly beautiful and there was one actress in particular, who played the main love interest, who had a gorgeous voice and also played the mandolin during this number. She was really great!

The lighting design was interesting – a lot of shadow and streams of light in use – but I thought it was a shame sometimes that we couldn’t see the performers faces in some important moments. The costumes made up for this (Jess, you are amazing!!) – we LOVED the design of the costumes, all period and all their own unique design, and we thought the hair design was perfect for the era as well.

We had a really good time and stoked to see something off-off-Broadway.

We finished the night off with sorbet from Jess’ favourite ice-cream shop around the corner and then headed home again.

 sl

Tonight we have a completely different experience from anything we’ve ever done!! But more on that later…

Til next time,

Tx

In the Jungle the Lion sleeps no more… or something cheesy like that :)

Well it’s been a busy couple of days over here in NYC (we keep pinching ourselves to remind us that we are in New York – NEW YORK. Crazy. So incredible that we’re here, living here for the month, and watching a show every night. Like, who does this?! It’s the most amazing trip of our lives and wouldn’t be possible without all of you contributing to it, so thank you so much!) *gush over*.

So, it’s been a busy couple of days. Tuesday we headed back to the City Clerk’s office to get our marriage documents all signed off and stamped! We are now the proud owners of a certificate stating that we are legally MARRIED. So that’s pretty cool!

20140923_153454

Then we headed over to Chinatown and Chels got all of her hair cut off! She’s been planning this for months because after growing her hair for the last three years for our wedding, she’s been going a little crazy. And she found out that in America it’s quite easy to donate your long hair to a charity that creates wigs for children with cancer. So she’s posting her ponytail to them. She’s much happier now that her head is a lot lighter and I think it’s a cute cut!

hair

After leaving Chinatown, we had dinner in a really beautiful restaurant in Little Italy (just next door to Chinatown – who would’ve thought?!) and then headed out to Chelsea (the place, not the person) to see our next show…

Sleep-No-More-Tickets-Banner

Broadway Show #14: Sleep No More
Where: McKittrick Hotel
Seats: General Admission
Rating: 7.5/10

Tickets purchased with contributions from: A. Nony. Mouse

This was the craziest theatrical experience I’ve ever had. It was exhilarating and confusing all at the same time. To start, you arrive at a random building, they get you to check in your bag and then “check-in” to the Hotel and you’re handed a playing card as your “room key”. Then you’re sent to a bar (beautiful, smokey, 1920’s themed) to mingle before your playing card is called out and at that point you’re led into a dark room and handed a mask that you must wear for the whole evening. You have to remain silent for the full three hours as well – and therefore remain anonymous for the whole experience. And then it all begins – you’re led into a dark elevator with a large group of other masked people and an actor stops the lift on various levels of the Hotel and lets different groups and individuals out to begin their experience (he split people up deliberately).

Chels and I were separated by our playing cards and we agreed that experiencing the Hotel alone was a great idea because then we could navigate as our instincts took us. The Hotel was created over five levels of the building and was super dark everywhere you went. The programme has notes from the directors describing that they were influenced by film noir in the lighting design and that’s exactly how it felt. From bedrooms, to insane asylum rooms, to graveyards, to forests, to a ballroom and banquet hall, (to name just a FEW of the spaces) this show had the most incredible production design I’ve ever seen. From the tiniest details to the grandest scale, all thought through and constructed to perfection. And you could interact with everything and anything, including the performers. The directors write that they chose to give the masks to the audience to encourage them to be bold with their exploration and perhaps be more voyeuristic than they would be without them. And that’s exactly what happened with everyone in the audience. Best moments for me: I saw a dance with two actors and a door between them (off it’s hinges) = amazing; a fight choreography between two men battling around a pool table; a solo dance by a nurse who had a body full of intense tics; and the most incredible slow motion scene playing out with all of the characters at a banquet.

snm

Oh and I forgot to mention that the show is based on Macbeth, with hotel characters and story characters intermingling and on every level of the Hotel there were different scenes playing out between characters and you were free to stay for a scene and watch or you could just explore all of the spaces in the Hotel (Chels and I both clocked the whole building) and you could watch a scene play out and then follow an actor when they left a room to move to another space in the building. Fascinating. And the company running the whole ship is Punchdrunk, famous for their physical theatre, so no words used in this show, only dance. And the movement of the performers was extraordinary. So precise and deliberate and infinitesimal and grandiose. Amazing. Gush, gush, gush.

I’ve blabbed for too long now.. sorry. But on a final point. The reason this only receives a 7.5/10 is because although we thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Hotel and experiencing something completely different, we only managed to see a couple of scenes from the story and had we not known Macbeth already, we would have no idea what was happening. But other than that, amazing. Oh and not only did they turn a large warehouse into the most incredible theatrical set, they also built a gorgeous garden bar on the roof that we had a post-show drink in. Amazing what money can provide..

***

Yesterday we had a rest day (because we’ve both got post-Wedding colds – blergh!) and we wrapped the day with another show..

61

Broadway Show #15: The Lion King
Where: Minskoff Theatre
Seats: Mid Mezzanine
Favourite number: He Lives in You
Rating: 8/10

Tickets purchased with contributions from: Therese & John Clarke, Kjersti Engeland-Fors, Michelle & Bruce Commerer (and the whole Commerer clan!)

I studied the director of this show, Julie Taymor, when I was doing my Masters so I’ve waited a long time to see it in the flesh. And it was great! The puppetry mechanics are amazing and the dancing is beautiful and the direction is so subtle and so clever. I was actually expecting the show to be much more razzle dazzle Disney, with proof of all the cash they’ve spent on it. But actually it was beautifully theatrical. They really went for simplicity on this show and I loved that. I think that has everything to do with the director. There was one moment in particular that stuck with us which is when Mufasa dies and the lioness’ come out to grieve. The way Taymor showed their crying was the performers pulled blue ribbons down from the eyes of the lioness masks on their heads. It was so simple but so beautiful and moving. It really made me think a lot about Red Leap Theatre, the company I produce for at home, and how a lot of the work they create has similarities to the theatricality we experienced with this show. Amazing that despite huge differences in budget, Kiwi companies can create theatre just as beautiful as Disney.

lk

Chels and I loved Timon and Pumba the best – they were definitely the life of the show! And the show adapted them a little like when they return to help Simba save Pride Rock and he needs them to be bait for the hyenas, instead of Timon dressing in drag and dancing the hula, like he does in the movie, he instead dressed in drag and danced the Charleston. Very cool! I loved Pumba’s puppet the best as well. The way they’ve designed the characters is really clever because the actor and puppet are integrated together – human and mechanics all in one. All in all, this one was a goodie.

Okay I think I’ve ranted enough for one blog.

Till next time,

Tx

Markets, Motown and Yankees!

Well after we bid farewell to our incredible wedding team and guests, we decided to recover in style by hitting the Annual Broadway Flea Market on Sunday. And it was incredible – running over three blocks, there were stalls with everything you could possibly think of for sale from Broadway – set, props and costume pieces from various shows; autographed everything from posters and photos to clothing to set and costume design sketches; there was art and collectibles; baking, books and badges – everything! We even managed to find an artist who creates bears in the likeness of Broadway characters, including Hedwig! Very cool. The main feature of the event is a big auction selling things like walk-on roles, meeting the stars for lunch, getting your own pair of kinky boots! …just to name a few. The auction items all start at $1000 bidding and everything in the auction and at all of the stalls raises money for Broadwaycares.org which is an equity organisation raising money for Aids. Such a great cause and an awesome annual event!

bway 1

Chels and I are SURE that if we actually lived in NYC permanently, we would now have a house FULL of all sorts of exciting memorabilia that we came across. I guess I should be greatful that our sensibilities stopped us from purchasing things that would fill up our suitcases! But one very special item that we couldn’t resist is an original print artwork by an artist called Brian Strumwasser, who is a Broadway makeup artist that creates images in his own spare time. He had created a few sets of First Edition prints for the Broadway Flea market and Chelsea and I are now the proud owners of #18 out of 200 prints of Lena Hall from Hedwig, including her autograph. Considering this show had such an affect on us and has stayed on our minds the whole trip, not to mention the fact we actually got to meet Lena Hall herself, after seeing her incredible performance, this is a special piece of art that we will definitely be framing and proudly displaying on our return home.

20140921_162956

Following an exciting weekend, we ended Sunday with a show…

Motown-Banner

Broadway Show #13: Motown
Where: Lunt-Fontanne Theatre
Seats: Mid Mezzanine
Favourite number: ABC
Rating: 6/10

mtown

The music of Motown is great and it was really interesting learning the history of this label. But outside of the music, there wasn’t much story to engage with so it ended up feeling a bit dull and a bit long. Highlights for me: definitely the set design – this show has heaps of money invested in it and includes a lot of hydraulic moments with the set shifting all over the stage. It also felt like every time they sang a new song (and there are at least 60 songs in this show), a new set would appear on the stage! So that was pretty amazing. The other highlight would have to be the boy who played a young Berry Gordy, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson (Nathaniel Cullors). He had a great voice and was such an awesome dancer! I can’t get over how talented these people are, especially the kids!!

20140922_190207

Yesterday we ventured out to Queens to the Yankee Stadium to see our first American sports game – baseball. The stadium is enormous and everything screams Yankees. Not only is the memorabilia and clothing all themed but all of the stadium food you can buy is branded with Yankees. Pretty cool. We found out as well that we were part of history as the Yankee Captain, (Derek Jeter – #2) who has played with the team for 20 years, is playing his last four home games before he retires and we were there for his fourth to last! Didn’t really mean much to us to be honest but we met a bunch of Americans who had travelled miles from other states just to see him play and then every time he appeared on the pitch, the crowd gave him a standing ovation and chanted his name over and over until he was off the field again.

yankWe had a really good night! I still can’t believe Chels sat through a whole sports game and actually enjoyed it! I mean, this is the girl who used to read Harry Potter while my cousin Elle and I watched the Rugby World Cup games! She was totally into it, singing along and chanting with the crowds. I think our future could have some fun sports-watching time in it! 

20140922_220415

And of course to top the night off, the Yankees won! So we got to catch the subway home with all of the die-hard fans celebrating another good game! 

Today we’re off to make the wedding license all official with the sign-off from the City Clerk and then we’re off to the first show of the week!

T x

Superblog #2!

I find myself reusing the same adjectives – brilliant, amazing, incredible, awesome and so on… but our trip really is all of those things and the last two days were no exception!

nhm

Friday afternoon, Honeymoon day one, we met at the Natural History Museum where a (very hungover) Doctor Kirsty took a group of us on a personal tour. It was brilliant. She answered all of our ridiculous questions and didn’t judge me (too much) when I got the names of the dinosaurs wrong. It was so much fun! My favourite was the T-Rex.

nhm2

From there we had a quick diner dinner so that Kirst could get the mashed potato she had been craving and then Theresa and I were off to our next show…

once-banner

Broadway Show #11: Once
Where: Jacobs Theatre
Seats: Side Orchestra
Favourite number: Time
Rating: 8/10

Tickets purchased with contributions from: Ruth, Matt & Luca Evans, Anna Nuria Francino and Amanda Grace Leo

We really enjoyed this show. The story is sweet and the performances were great. The set was pretty cool too – it was a bar that the audience were invited to go onstage and get a drink from. There were no wings or proscenium, just the bar and a grid above. It was great! The performers were also the band with all of the actors playing at least two instruments – often while singing and dancing at the same time. Super, crazy talented!

The only downside were the accents. I think it is because we spend so much time with our lovely Irish bridesmaid Elaine, so the accents slipped a fair bit and we found it jarring but it didn’t take anything away from the wonderful night we had. Beautiful music!

once

Yesterday we were up early to visit Dean & Deluca (yummy!) with Katie and Dave before missioning to meet Sally & Alex and the Bell/Webster family for lunch where the men proved they can handle American portions (top work team!) before we dashed a few blocks to see our next show!

10635922_10204664361391249_355803676504660743_n

les-miserables-banner

Broadway Show #12: Les Miserables
Where: Imperial Theatre
Seats: Side Orchestra
Favourite number: One Day More
Rating: 9/10

Tickets purchased with contributions from: Chrissy & Mick Bell

This is the first musical that Theresa and I geeked out over when our relationship was brand new. We’d listen to the 10th Anniversary recording on repeat and would blast it in the car singing at the top of our lungs debating at length our favourite Jean Valjean’s (Alfie Boe vs. Rob Guest). I was fortunate enough to see the show on the West End and I thought the Broadway version would be on par with that but it wasn’t – it blew it out of the water! AMAZING!

It’s a brand new production that opened in March this year and you can tell – fantastic use of AV to create scenes, the sets were brilliantly constructed and the direction had some GREAT modernisations.

We were lucky enough to get Ramin Karimloo, Broadway Superstar, as our Valjean and Theresa describes his voice as melted butter on toast and she is right. His range was AMAZING and performances heartfelt. We were equally fortunate to get West End legend Earl Carpenter as our Javert who was amazing and didn’t overact the role which is the normal tendency (*cough* Russell Crowe *cough*).

We enjoyed this show immensely and it was all the better to share it with Chrissy, Mick, Tasj and Jamie who we love to pieces. Brilliant afternoon. INCREDIBLE AFTERNOON.

les mis

Following the show we went for a trip up the Empire State Building with our wonderful Best Man Scott – he booked in express passes so we were flashing them around and jumping the hours and hours of queuing to go up to the very top! The views were amazing and we were there for the sunset which was just so magical. After many, many photos we walked to Union Square to Scotty’s favourite Mexican restaurant for an incredible meal – my mouth is watering just writing about it. YUM!

blimp

Pit Stop #1 on the way home was McGee’s pub with the Bell/Websters which is what the pub McClaren’s in How I Met Your Mother is based on and where the writers came up with the idea. The pub was filled with signed pictures, Barney’s motivational posters and themed cocktails (slutty pumpkin anyone?).

himym

Pit Stop #2 was the Bell/Webster accommodation that was 20 blocks from our NY Home, where we remained until 3am talking about how funny life is and how great everything has worked out.

We have officially said our goodbyes to all our wonderful wedding guests and are feeling so humbled by everyone’s love and generosity – thank you SO MUCH to all of you who came so far to join us for our dream wedding in NYC. Bring on the rest of our honeymoon!

Sending our love,

C & T
x