Come From Away
Come From Away is one of the most fun and moving experiences I’ve had attending Broadway shows over the past few years. In brief, it deals with the dozens of jets which were grounded in Newfoundland, Canada in the days after 9/11. The stress of not knowing what happened in the US met with the kindness of the Canadian hosts, making for a unique situation and story. To me, it felt a little like a surprise “camp” for adults, who would never have normally been thrown together. Most people are recommending this show based on the kindness, and warm feeling you exit the theatre with, as being timely due to US politics, but I genuinely feel it would have been successful at any time, it’s a really good musical. The CD is just being released as I write this, although I’m not sure it’s the style of music I would listen to again and again, it works for the story.
Kid Victory was an off-Broadway musical, with music by John Kander, and book and lyrics by Greg Pierce. I went partly on the name of John Kander, and partly because I vowed to try to see Karen Ziemba as much as possible about a year ago when I saw her sing one song. It’s an interesting plot, I’d say it’s roughly a suspense-thriller musical, which is unusual in my experience. The boy has been abducted, you know from the start, and this is about trying to readjust back to his old life after he returns. The family is fairly repressive, in a religious, and intrusive parenting style. The suspense is found in the way you gradually discover why/how he was abducted, and how he came home. I’m not sure whether I’ll listen to the music a lot in future, but I thought it worked for the show. It’s closed now, but I’d say it’s an interesting show if you happen upon future productions.
War Paint – see the separate post
Carmen Cusack at 54 Below
I was a huge fan of Bright Star last year, so in my nostalgia for that show I was quite keen to see Carmen sing in her personal style. I’d listened to the samples of the songs from her concert last year, so I knew I’d enjoy it. I had tickets for January which were delayed until March, so it was a long time in suspense!
The concert was quite stunning, with a great variety of songs, and many original tunes written by Carmen herself. It was even largely different from the recorded CD, as far I could tell. I still highly recommend checking out that live CD, and/or seeing her next time she does a solo gig!
Shaina Taub at Joe’s Pub
Shaina is a brilliant young singer-songwriter, who has also performed in musicals and plays herself. She has a unique and interesting style, and is often fairly political as well. She’s best known for her song When, which I’ve mentioned before. She’s also a wonderful piano player, and accordion player, which is one of the most entertaining parts of any set she plays. She’s doing a residency at Joe’s Pub, roughly monthly concerts, which I highly recommend attending (also note that it was very reasonably priced at about $20 plus 2 drinks).
I’d seen it before, but I just wanted to note that this is still one of my most easy-to-recommend musicals for anyone visiting NYC who can only see one or two shows, and hasn’t seen it before, especially for women. I don’t know about now that Sara Bareilles is starring, but it was usually not too hard to get tickets for, and extremely enjoyable. I had previously thought of it as light, not so “life-changing” as something like Hamilton, but lately I’ve thought more about it, and if it helps even one person be inspired to improve his/her life, whether it be career or relationship, then it actually could be extremely important. Christopher Fitzgerald nearly steals the show for me, I really love physical comedy, and he really brings it (he may have left with Jessie though, I’m not sure).
Jason Robert Brown at Subculture
I go to this residency fairly regularly, and for good reason. I always leave so inspired, and impressed. This one also had Steve Pasquale as a guest star, so that was an extra incentive, as I still listen to Bridges of Madison County a fair bit. Pasquale’s duet with a male countertenor Patrick Dailey as Francesca was something very special to behold.
Love Letter (Joe Iconis, Lauren Marcus)
This was a sort of mini-musical loosely based on the courtship between Johnny Cash and June Carter, utilising some of their songs, some original songs by Joe/Lauren, and some other songs, to tell the story. It was a lot of fun, done in a sort of wink-wink, exaggerated style that is hard (for me) to explain if you haven’t seen any of Joe’s previous shows or concerts. Given Joe and Lauren are a married couple in real-life, and have performed together a lot, they have great chemistry, and amazing musicality together. I think roughly a third of our performance were friends of theirs, so it was a raucous (small) room, and that just added to the fun of the whole thing. I’m not surprised they added a bunch of dates after this one was booked out, it’s a tiny room (up the back of Don’t Tell Mama). I have no idea if it’s possibly, but I’d love this to keep going in some form, so that more people can see it.
Broadway Bound at 54 Below
This was the first in what I assume will be a new series at 54 Below, a bit similar to the existing series “If it only runs a minute,” but instead of short-running Broadway shows, it’s shows which were headed to Broadway and never made it. I had some curiosity about Nerds and Rebecca, and was quite happy to see a song from each. I feel terrible for those casts, being the most recent of the shows, and it was impressive that one of each were willing to talk about it and perform from their respective shows. Jill Paice was due to play the lead in Rebecca, and was really admirably honest and angry in her tale. I really love her voice and hope to see her in many shows in future.
The New Yorkers at Encores!
This was a pre-code Cole Porter musical from 1930 (from memory) which was carefully restored (and slightly padded out) for Encores!. It’s one of my favourite things when they restore almost entirely forgotten shows, even if they’re not workable as a current-day show in themselves. For example, there was an utterly nonsensical song about wood leading into intermission, and the cast just piled up a whole pile of wooden furniture and things, and made fun of the whole thing.
The story was fairly fun in general, to do with a mother and father who are separated/divorced, and their children, and young lovers, and bootlegging (prohibition times). The overall effect was just a lot of fun, running around, singing amazing Cole Porter music, and some serious but incongruous moments (Love for Sale sung by a character playing a prostitute).