I went to Boston from the 18 May to the 22 May, believe it or not, but I guess I went to more shows than usual in the week beforehand because I had friends visiting from LA and Portland. As mentioned previously, I like most of the shows I see, to various degrees. You can see a summary on my Show Score.
Do I Hear a Waltz? (Encores!)
The plot was roughly “sad spinster can’t get a date so she is pressured to settle for being a mistress” but it had some interesting twists and scenes along the way. The contrast between the morals of Italy and the USA, and between men and women was interesting, and it was nice to see such a female-centric story from that era (mid 1960s). The music was by Richard Rogers, book by Arthur Laurents, lyrics by Stephen Sondheim.
Melissa Errico sang the score beautifully, as did her male costar Richard Troxell (who came from the opera world). As I mentioned in my recap of her 54 Below concert, I’m quite excited that Melissa is re-entering her Broadway career after stepping back for a few years, and I can’t wait to see what she does next. Sopranos are my favourite!
Sarah Stiles had most of the laughs, as a deadpan hopeless waitress/chef/receptionist in the small pension in which the show is set. She was well known last year for stealing the show in Hand to God on Broadway, and, again, I can’t wait to see what she does next. She has amazing comic timing.
In case you weren’t aware, this musical is based on a great little movie from 2007 which starred Keri Russell, and which was tragically infamous, because the writer/director/actress Adrienne Shelly was murdered soon after filming it. I remembered really enjoying the movie, but luckily, not much of the detail. It did mean, however, I had a feeling I knew what was coming throughout, usually just as each plot point was about to happen. It still felt like a fresh sort of story, nothing really happens as you might expect in a mainstream rom-com.
The music is by Sara Bareilles. Although I can’t say I knew her music beforehand, I was aware she was a very popular contemporary singer-songwriter. I absolutely loved the music for this show, although the style of singing took some getting used to, it’s slightly more like pop music than I’m used to hearing in musicals, which partly meant it was a little less enunciated. Jessie Mueller came from starring in Beautiful, which is also music from outside of Broadway, so she suits the style perfectly, and is so powerful that you have to see it to understand.
The whole cast are quirky and lovable, it’s really a feel-good sort of movie or musical. Even her unlikeable husband is fairly mild as far as villains go. It’s the sort of show you could go to again and again (although it would be easier if there were any budget options, the cheapest seats are around $59 with a discount, there is no rush and no lottery).
She Loves Me
Yes, again. See previous posts! It’s my go-to show this season, when I have visitors, and I’ve had a few coming in and out.
School of Rock
I had some friends in town who saw the show, and I didn’t go because I’d already seen it once, and I was happy to wait a little longer to see it again. When they loved it so much that they were going again, I agreed to go if there were rush tickets. When we heard Sierra was out of the show that day, I was even more interested, as I’d seen her understudy, Mamie Parris, go on as Lily Garland in On the Twentieth Century last year so I thought it might be nice to see her in the lead again in School of Rock.
The show was just as fun as I’d remembered, I am an easy target when a show includes talented child actors, and this has them by the dozen, singing, dancing and playing instruments. Mamie sounded amazing in Where Did the Rock Go, which is a beautiful song. Alex Brightman is still rocking it, he makes it a delight to watch.
A Streetcar Named Desire
This is the production starring Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois at St Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, which transferred from London. It’s quite a jaw-dropping performance, and I can see why she’s received so much acclaim. I know it’s a play that’s done quite a lot around the world, but for me, it was the first time seeing it live on stage, so it had the full impact (I’d seen the movie, and studied the play in high school, so I knew the story reasonably well).
The warehouse theatre means it’s a large open space, used in this case as a theatre-in-the-round. The stage actually rotates constantly throughout the show, slowly enough that it’s not distracting, but it means nobody really misses any of the action or faces. I was in awe of the whole cast, and the energy they must have to do this 8 times a week. The thrill at the end was watching Gillian release her face from the drama and agony, into a gradual smile at the audience reaction.
We Love Laura at 54 Below
This was a privilege just to attend. It was a night honouring and celebrating Laura Benanti, which included songs and performances by many of her closest friends, and family. We had missed out on tickets in the first five minutes of the presale, so I was really happy that it worked out, as my visiting friends had never been to 54 Below, and they also love Laura!
Some of the absolute highlights in a night full of highlights were when Laura and her mother Linda (who I will always think of as #Linda thanks to Laura’s tweets) sang Children Will Listen, and when Nikka Graff Lanzarone sang a perfect rendition of Model Behaviour from Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Nikka was in the cast with Laura, although it was Laura’s song in the show).