March 30, 2007

A Full Night Of Sleep

As the title of this post implies, I finally got a full night of sleep.

This week, I've been suffereing the ill effects of a bad cold. It started on Saturday with a mild sore throat and by Monday night, my cold had turned my sinuses into a mucus factory. To say I've been uncomfortable would be putting it mildly. I've had headaches all week and per usual when I have cold, sleep has been elusive. Why is it that when you need the most sleep that it's hardest get?

But last night, I was finally able to get some sleep. 8 hours.

What a relief. I still have my cold. It's been demoted to a mild annoyance that brings on sneezing every 30 minutes or so. And there is still pressure behind my left eye.

But I think my cold is on it's way out.


March 29, 2007

Good Bye Chris Sligh

The most clever contestant in American Idol's history, according to Ryan Seacrest, was sent home last night. Chris Sligh did a crappy job singing Every Little Thing She Does is Magic by the Police and was punished for it. He was sent home last night.

The results show was almost interesting. Gwen Stefani performed that strange Sweet Escape song with special guest singer Akon and 6 Japanese dancers. Akon sang "ooh" and "aah" in a way that I guess only Akon can sing. Since I first heard the song, I haven't understood why it had to be Akon singing the oohs and aahs. It seems like anyone could have sung that party. No. Really. I'm not kidding. Listen to the song. Here's his part: "Whohoe, whihooWhohoe, whihooWhohoe, whihooWhohoe, whihoo"

She could have gotten school kids to sing it. Two nuns in an elevator. A policeman on horseback.

I was sorry to see Chris go. Especially since Phil Stacy is staying. Chris has way more personality than Phil, he just picked a really bad song for vocalizing last night. Why would anyone pick a Police song. There's no way anyone could sing better than Sting. Singers sing best when they sing the music they write for themselves. Sting sings Police songs well because they are written for him. Chris is a song writer. It's too bad we couldn't hear him singing one of his own songs. We probably would have heard him at his best if we could have.

I'm pretty sure Phil Stacy doesn't write music.

Hopefully this will give a boost to Chris Sligh's songwriting career.

March 28, 2007

The Latest in Scam Spamming

This is copied from the spam folder in my old email address. Notice that the sender didn't even bother to put in a name. What a lazy spammer. He could have at least inserted the name on my old email in the salutation line. Honestly Sam Samo. You've got to get it together if you're going to succeed in swindling suckers.

From: Sam Samo..Abidjan Cote D'Ivoire.
Attn: .
I am Sam Samo,son of late Mr and Mrs Paul Samo. My father was a very wealthy GOLD and COCOA manchant who based in ACCRA GHANA andABIDJAN respectively, The economic capital of cote D’Ivoire.
He was poisoned to death by his business associate on one of their business outings. When my mother died on the 21ST october 1994 , My father took me so special because I am motherless.

Before the death of my father on the 25th November 2004. He sincerely called me on his bed side and told me that he had a sum of 15.000,000 US DOLLARS (fiften MILLION USA DOLLARS)He kept in one of the Security Company Here in Abidjan. He also used my name to Deposit the consignment as his only Son for next of kin. He also explained to me that it was because of this wealth that he was poisoned by his business associates, That I should seek for a foreign partner in a country of my choice where I will transfer this money and use it for investment purposes, I want you to assist me in clearing this fund into your account overseas as a beneficiary of the fund, and also use it for an Investment purpose.
I am honourably seeking for your assistance in the following ways.
(1)To help me retreive the consignment from the Security company where the consignment was deposited
(2)To assist me to transfer the money to your account successfully.
(3) To provide a bank account into which this moneywould be transfer to.
(4)To serve as the guardian of this fund sinceI am a Boy of (19)yrs .
(5) To make arrangement for me to come over to your country to further my Education and to secure a residential permit in your country. Moreover, I am willing to offer you 15% of the total sum as compensation for your effort /input after the successful transfer of this fund to your nominated account.
Furthermore, you can indicate your option towardsassisting me.

Thanks and God bless you for your anticipatedcoperation.

Best Regards,

Sam Samo.

Grey Gardens - Again

I wrote that I had problems with a patron at the theater where I was working last night. What I failed to mention was the name of the theater. I am at the Walter Kerr Theater again, working Grey Gardens again. I told you that there was a very small crowd last night, no doubt because of the absence of Christine Ebersole. Her understudy was up to the task. She was certainly talented enough but when you see an understudy take over for a big star you start to appreciate why that bigger star they are replacing is so enjoyable to watch.

The biggest problem I had was the physical difference between the two performers. The understudy, (whose name forgive me, I can't remember) is at least one foot shorter than Ms. Ebersole. That was very distracting for me because the person they play is very tall. And then there's the fact that the understudy just doesn't have the same presence as Christine Ebersole. Also, she's not as connected to the part which I imagine she will improve as she gets more opportunities to work on it.

But Christine Ebersole was back in today and she was brilliant, really brilliant. Maybe it's because I've been feeling emotional lately, but from the middle of Act II to the end of the show, I was weeping. When she's singing Around the World, about her life of fear, missed opportunities and psychological abuse at the hands of her parents, she makes me cry every time. It's the kind of performance that makes you want to go out and live because you don't want to end up as crazy shut-ins with 50 cats like her and her mother. That song touches me.

There's another song called Choose to Be Happy that has one meaning but the actors playing out their parts on stage make it ironic because they are not happy. I cry during that one sometimes as well.

The show ends with a reprise of a song we heard at the top of the Act I but before that, the two Edies sing a beautiful duet about Another Winter in a Summer Town. Today, for that number, I needed one tissue and a half to get me through.

If you're feeling sad before you go to see Grey Gardens, this show will really help you express some tears and you may feel sadder. Personally, I like to have a good cry when watching sad movies or plays. It makes me feel like I'm understanding the story the way it was intended by the creators and performers. But if you're looking for a feel good experience, I would definitely recommend something else entirely. Hairspray, Curtains, The Drowsy Chaperone, Chicago. Those shows leave you with that good feeling. Those shows will pick you up.

I don't know though. Maybe you'll feel better after you see Grey Gardens just because the performances are so good. But maybe not.

Consider yourself warned.

American Idol - Top 10 Finalists

Gwen Stefani was the guest this week on American Idol. When she was announced as the guest last week I was concerned that the contestants were going to have a limited choice of No Doubt songs for the show. But the producers expanded the contestant's choices by letting them sing songs from artists that influenced Gwen Stefani as well as Stefani's songs themselves.

Everyone did better with the exception of Chris Richardson who creeps me out. Phil Stacy was still creepy but even I have to admit he did a better job than the week before.

Gwen Stefani gave surprisingly helpful and intelligent advice. She spoke to the contestants plainly and honestly and in terms they understood. Her advice was concise and useful.

She told the contestants to respect the melodies of their chosen songs, advice which they all followed.

The weakest performances came from Haley, Phil, Chris Richardson, Chris Sligh, and as much as I hate to admit it, Sanjaya. Gina Glocksen sounded better than she ever has singing a great Pretender's song. Lakisha, Melinda and Jordin did the best.

Dealing With People

So last night I had an unhappy customer. The headset I gave her before Act I died somewhere in the middle of the act. She yelled at me at intermission telling me I hadn't done my job properly and scolded me for not testing the headset before I gave it to her. But I did and she saw me test it and she tested it herself before she sat down. She complained that she missed the first act and that she was going to complain to the manager.

She was sitting in the third row and last night's show was even louder because there was a smaller than usual number of people in the audience (less people absorb less sound making things louder). So while I felt bad I knew her claims were exaggerated. An usher who witnessed this public chastising told me the patron had been difficult right from the outset of the show, complaining about her very good seats in the third row, about bathroom location, etc.

So, I gave her a second set. And wondered for most of Act II if I should or shouldn't have given her a second pair in case the pair I gave her conked out. But I ended up relaxing somewhere in the middle of Act II and tried to enjoy the show.

After the show, she handed back the headset without making eye contact and she was completely sullen. She didn't say a word as she headed back into the auditorium to meet her husband. It wasn't over. She waited until she was one of the last patrons in the theater and on her way out, she gave me one more parting shot. "NEXT TIME, DO YOUR JOB THE RIGHT WAY!" I was so upset, I kept dropping things.

To make matters worst, I'm in the midst of a big fat cold. Last night, my big fat cold was responsible for my baby migraine headache.

March 27, 2007

Weather Wassup

What is up with this bizarre weather? It's too warm for early spring. Why can't we just have some normal spring weather in the 50's and 60's? Why can't we get some early spring thunderstorms? I am not happy about this. My brow is moist with humidity. Yes. I'm sweaty and I haven't even walked outside yet, well, not in the last three hours or so.

I hope it cools down. I hate when we skip through spring and go directly to summer. I like my fall and spring weather and I WANT IT NOW!!!

March 24, 2007

Theater Theatrics

There was a lot of drama at tonight's production of [insert name of show here]. First, there were three substitute ushers who didn't know what they were doing, working house right mezzanine. The situation was so bad that the patrons had to wait in lines to be seated. This could have been resolved earlier on in the evening had one of the several people in charge of the ushers bothered to explain the goings on of the [insert name of theater here].

Then a patron insisted on being seated after the overture started. The ushers have specific instructions to wait until after the second song of Act I before they can seat latecomers, yet this patron started screaming that she wanted to be seated immediately. She had to be ushered into the lobby where not only one, but two house managers tried to calm her down. Eventually she was calmed down and joined the rest of her party.

But the drama didn't stop there. During intermission a patron came up to me in a panic asking me if I was an usher because someone needed a medic. I pointed her in the direction of one of the more experienced ushers so she could get the house manager. Turns out the woman had fallen up the stairs on the way back from the ladies' room and hit her head. It was bleeding but she was a trooper. The house manager was very diligent and made sure the woman was okay. She kept asking the woman if she wanted an ambulance and the woman declined each offer of medical attention. The house manager gave her an ice pack for the swelling and some Bacitracin and band aids for the bleeding. Then she gave special instructions to two different people to watch the woman from the distance to monitor her condition.

Very exciting evening. And I didn't even watch the show.

March 22, 2007

American Idol Results Show

A good chunk of the 1/2 hour results show was dedicated to everything except paying attention to the contestants. Most of the time was given to Lulu and Noone (looks like no one doesn't it?)

But hey isn't this show about those poor people making fools of themselves every week for our entertainment.

Peter Noone performed "A Kind Of Hush". If he were contestant the judges would have told him he made a poor song choice because that song is just boring. Lulu performed "To Sir With Love" and looked and sounded great. I was impressed that they sang the songs they're known for rather than some new lame projects they're promoting.

30 seconds went to that stupid Ford commercial video spot.

Ryan Seacrest spent precious moments promoting the big American Idol charity project.

30 seconds were spent telling Stephanie Edwards and Chris Richardson were in the bottom two.

And Ryan spent about 10 seconds telling Stephanie that she had to leave the show.

She didn't even get a goodbye montage.

March 21, 2007

Curtains: A New Musical

Something exciting is happening to musical theater this Broadway season. Producers are actually putting on good shows. First it was was the original and poignant Grey Gardens.Then it was the thought provoking rock musical Spring Awakening. Add Curtains to that list and you get an amazing triptych of ingenuity and entertainment.

Curtains opens officially on March 22, 2007 at the Al Hirshfeld theater. Currently in previews I've had the opportunity to work both the first and last weeks before it opens on Thursday night. Curtains is a good old fashioned musical with catchy songs, feel good production numbers and an all-star cast.

The show opens with the final act of Robbin' Hood where we meet Jessica Crenshaw, the show's talentless leading lady who literally dies on stage - after final bows. Finding out who killed her is the main storyline of the show. In the secondary storyline, the cast tries to save Robbin' Hood so they can take it to Broadway. This first scene sets up the show within the show. In the second scene, we meet the people behind the scenes of the show within the show. We meet Aaron and Georgia Fox, song writer and lyricist of the show played by Jason Danieley and Karen Ziemba; Carmen Bernstein, the show's brassy, buxom and bellicose producer, played with aplomb by Debra Monk; Christopher Belling the show's urbane and slightly effete director, played by Edward Hibbert; sugary sweet ingenue Niki Harris played effusively by Jill Paice. But most importantly we meet police Lt. Frank Cioffi who will solve the crime and ultimately save the show. He is played by the very talented David Hyde Pierce.

There is a lot of character development and exposition throughout Act I but you don't really mind so much because the jokes are funny and the numbers are great. The genius of the show is the intermarriage between the main plot and the secondary plot. For example, at the close of Act I the cast is rehearsing the end of Act I for Robbin' Hood. When Lt. Cioffe jumps out from stage left and exclaims that number was so good "it will leave the audience chompin' at the bit for Act II", he's also relaying back to the audience how they most likely feel having just seen the number.

Throughout the show there are a lot of references to a Broadway that doesn't exist anymore. And you get the feeling that the producers really miss the way Broadway used to be. I don't want to give anything away. There are a lot of great surprises resulting from the exceptionally large amount of misdirection.

But I can share with you the best part of the show without giving anything away. The performances are top-notch. It's worth the full ticket price if you can afford it and if not, I saw it on the TKTS board at 50% off last night. Try to see the show while it's still fresh and all these great people are in it.

American Idol - 11 Left

British Invasion
With 11 American Idol contestants left, the producers went with a British Invasion theme show to help the singers show off their voices. This was a much better theme than the Diana Ross theme show because of the variety of songs that made up the choices for the participants. The special guest mentors were Lulu and Peter Noone. Lulu worked with the women and Peter worked with the men. In the filmed segments shown before each performance you could tell that Lulu really knew how to help the contestants by the advice that she gave. On the other hand Peter Noone seemed happy just to be hanging out with the contestants. His advice was for the most part incomprehensible.

Padded Judging
From the beginning of the judging I could tell something was going on. The judges seemed to be praising performances that were mediocre at best. I think it was to build up the contestants to make sure they received more votes than Sanjaya in the end.

Haley Scarnato came out wearing a skimpy outfit with incredibly high heeled shoes - four inches at least. She showed a lot of shoulder, leg and dexterity by keeping her shirt from falling off while using her legs to bounce around the stage in those incredibly high heels. When I stopped paying attention to her overexposed flesh, I noticed she was singing "Tell Him", a song known by everyone. I had to laugh when Lulu advised her to sing in a more staccato style which was excellent and practical. That's how the song is sung and if you've heard that song as many times as I have, you know that's how it's sung. Anyway, the judges praised Haley for being more aggressive and flirty and didn't seem to care that half of what she sang was out of tune or "pitchy" as the judges like to say.

Chris Richardson was next. He chose to sing "Don't Let The Sun Get You Cryin". This is the first film clip in which we see Peter Noone giving less than practical advice. He basically told Chris to find the melody and sing it. Obviously Chris thinks he found the melody otherwise he wouldn't have been able to practice with Peter Noone. Duh. Anyone, Noone gave Chris a less than ringing endorsement in his one on one interview, saying that he didn't hear much in Chris's voice which he thought was quite breathy. Of course I agree with him. I'm not a fan of Chris Richardson. He looks creepy and I think his voice is consistently weak and thready. Here is my note from Chris's performance. "As I write this, Chris is singing his song and I'm so bored that I'm filling these lines with words just to keep busy. Yawn." The judges talked this dull performance up as well. This is the moment when I realize the judges might be giving false praise to help get Sanjaya off the show.

Stephanie Edwards sang "You Don't Have to Love Me" but not before answering a ridiculous FAN QUESTION for the time wasting FAN QUESTION SEGMENT. On behalf of a fan from somewhere in this great land, Ryan Seacrest asked Stephanie "What is the hardest part of getting ready for the show each week?" Stephanie answered the question earnestly but I felt bad for her because she was moments away from singing for her life. It was a good song for her but her performance was dulled. She seems to be losing her "it" factor. The judges were booed when they told her that but I could see on her face that she agreed. If she makes it to next week, we'll see a much stronger performance from her. At this point, I started thinking I was wrong about the judges padding their compliments. Side note: Lulu told Stephanie she sounds like Beyonce.

Blake Lewis beat boxed his way through "Time of the Season". Peter Noone told Blake he liked that he's trying to modernize the song but he wouldn't want to be in the front row for all the spitting. "Let the girls sit in the front row." I thought he had a lot of trouble singing in his upper register and in some parts he sang completely out of tune. To my surprise, the judges loved him and said it was his best performance EVER. Yeah. Right. If you saw the show, you know what I mean.

Lakisha Jones sang "Diamonds Are Forever". She was wearing $1 million worth of diamonds and still managed to deliver a mediocre performance. I only wrote two words on my notepad to describe her performance. "Pitchy" and "eh". Simon told her he had flash forward of her to 40 years from now.

Phil Stacy was really strange last night. He sang a rocking song called "Tobacco Road" which seemed more country rock than British Invasion. He sounded okay but he looked so odd running around the stage in his button down shirt and blue jeans. His image was more milk toast than rocker and the combination was strange. He should have focused more on standing still and singing the song well than running around like a chicken without a head. But I've always found him creepy which goes all the way back to the original auditions. He's not my favorite.

Jordin Sparks nailed "I Who Have Nothing" one of the most depressing songs from the British Invasion song book. She did a great job. Of course, Lulu loved her and who wouldn't. She's a bubbly, happy, talented, well-adjusted teenager who can really belt out a song. Simon thought she sang beautifully but he was so depressed that he wanted to jump off a bridge.

Sanjaya Malakar sang "Girl You Got Me". He nailed it. He sang every note in tune. I will concede that he doesn't have the confidence to really sell the songs he sings. But last night, he broke out of his shell and did the best a little boy that lacks confidence can do. What was his funny about his segment, were the constant cutaways to a little girl crying in the audience. They showed her momentarily during Blake's performance but for Sanjaya's - I think she got as much camera time as he did. She was really cute. After his performance, Ryan Seacrest called Sanjaya out of the audience to give her a hug which he did and it was a very sweet moment. The crying preteen made me think that perhaps British Rock music was laced with secret notes that induce tears in young girls on a subliminal level.

The judges held back on saying anything negative about Sanjaya's performance, which I think was done intentionally to fight the wave of calls from VOTE FOR THE WORST readers, because we know that they hate him. Simon came closest to saying something negative with his commentt that "that little girl's tears said it all". Anyway, the website encourages people to vote for the worst singer in order to keep him or her on the show for reasons understood only by the wizards behind that website. But if they knew anything at all about music they would back Phil Stacy or Chris Richardson because Sanjaya is not the worst singer.

Gina Glocksen chose Paint It Black. Lulu gave her seemingly good advice when she told her to sing in a higher key. But that was not good advice. Throughout the song, Gina struggled with her pitch and then she did something really odd. She just started screaming random notes at the end of the song, completely screwing up the melody. Now I am a Gina fan and I don't think that performance hurt her last night. After all, she will get all the votes that were meant for Sundance Head (Southern white rocker) but I didn't like her singing last night. I mean she was fun to watch. She sure did look a lot more naturally running around that stage than Phil Stacy. But she needs to stand still and sing well just like Phil. They can worry about their choreography later.

Chris Sligh did a good job singing "She's Not There". When he sings, he likes to start on the downbeat or half of the down beat which makes him stand out. I like that he does that because I'm always interested in hearing how he makes it all fit even though he's a little bit off the beat but the judges haven't picked up on that yet. They consistently tell him that he's ahead of his music. Eventually they'll realize it. There's something so likable about Chris Sligh. I hope he does well and that this show is a launching pad for his music writing career. There were two funny signs in the audience. "BRINGING CHUBBY BACK" and "FRO PATRO". While Ryan was wrapping up Chris's performance, Chris starting chanting "FRO PATRO!" which of course was a parody of Taylor Hicks and how he kept screaming "Soul Patrol" after every performance. Chris is funny.

Melinda Doolittle chose a song from the musical Oliver called "As Long As He Needs Me." I never realized this song was considered part of the British Invasion but no matter. Her performance was perfect. It was so beautiful it made little 11 year old Ashley cry yet again in the audience. Melinda Doolittle will win American Idol - no doubt.

In the End
At the end of the show when they ran through everyone's clips and phone numbers you could really hear how everyone with the exception of Lakisha and Jordin suck in comparison to Melinda.
Also, Ryan called Ashley up to the stage so she could cry on every contestant. She made me cry to. Sweet kid. I hope in her life that's all she has to cry about. I predict that Sanjaya and Phil will be in the bottom three again but I don't know who the third will be.

March 19, 2007

Hillary Equals Big Brother?

So before I went to sleep last night, I listened to the last 10 minutes of Matt Drudge's radio program. He said that his link to the "Obama 1984" ad would probably recieve a lot of hits. At five minutes to midnight I made a mental note to check out the Drudge Report to see what he was talking about.

Matt Drudge is not the biggest Hillary Clinton fan. And you know what? Neither am I. I've strongly disliked her since she bought a house in New York for the sole purpose of establishing residency so she could be our senator. What a phony. And I can't trust a woman who would let her husband cheat on her. She obviously has no respect for the institute of marriage. If you don't want to be married, don't be married. Get a divorce. I can respect that. But don't insult me. Don't be so obvious about using your husband for political gain. Bill and Hllary are hardly ever seen together in public anymore, except when fund raising for her campaign.

And I never understand what her opinion is about anything. She is a chameleon when it comes to expressing her views. She makes up her mind based on whatever opinion poll her aides happened to hand her that day.

Anyway, I got a big kick out of this campaign and to answer your question - Yes. I am an Obama fan. I'm not exactly sure what this short film is trying to say, but I do agree with the effort to reveal Senator Clinton as something she is not.

March 14, 2007

American Idol - Results

I'm glad that the Diana Ross theme song was dealt with early on. Why? Because I don't really like her songs for competition. The contestants performed two songs from the Supremes at the top of the Results Show - Baby Love and Stop In The Name of Love. The group performance was lame because those songs are lame when performed out of context. Those songs had their day. Written specifically for the Supremes, their songs don't work when performed by other artists. Overall the group number suffered.

The lameness continued when after the commercial break, we had to watch the FORD musical video segment. The contestants sang a song called Float On while engaging in antics involving Ford cars. Finally after that, Ryan Seacrest starting calling out the contestants one by one announcing which one were safe and which were in the bottom three. He called out Brandon Rogers and Phil Stacy who had to wait while Diana Ross sang a lame arrangement of one of the worst songs ever written "More Today Than Yesterday". When I was a kid and would hear that song on the radio, it would stick in my head for days on end and not because it was so good. Every time I heard that song, I would get a sick feeling in my stomach because I knew it would stay with me, distracting me from my math homework and spelling tests.

After Diana Ross's mediocre performance, Sanjaya Malakar was called out to complete the triad of troubled troubadours. Seacrest informed Phil Stacy that he was safe and told him to sit down leaving Brandon Rogers and Sanjaya Malakar. If you guessed that Brandon Rogers was the contestant that received the least amount of votes, then you would have been correct.

Good Bye Brandon

He didn't seem surprised. He knew he did bad job by forgetting the words the night before. We didn't get to hear him sing his good bye performance because the show ran long and the FOX cut him off before he could sing a note. That was fine by me. He isn't that much fun to watch. Why would we want to see him do the same crap job again that got him kicked off the show.


American Idol's guest was Motown maven, Diana Ross. This meant that all of the contestants had to perform something from her repertoire. When there is a celebrity on the show, we usually get to see footage of the contestants training with whatever INDUSTRY ICON they've brought in that week. We get to see the star struck with their heros. For the most part, Diana Ross seemed pretty normal and actually gave good advice. But she did make me laugh when she told Gina Glocksen that she had to PRONUNCIATE the words to Love Child. Poor Gina. As if she didn't have enough to worry about.

The only two contestants that really shined were Melinda Doolittle and Lakisha Jones. Melinda did a great job singing the only good song from The Wiz, Home. And Lakisha Jones showed how good she can be when she sang God Bless the Child which Diana Ross performed when she starred as Billy Holiday in Lady Sings the Blues. Jordan Sparks gave the third best performance singing one of the more obscure songs from Ross's song book - If We Hold On Together. And Gina Glocksen finished my top four with her rendition of Love Child.

I wish everyone else luck. Anybody could be going home. Chris Sligh butchered Endless Love when he changed the arrangement. He had the right instinct. That song sucks. He just couldn't do anything to save that song which leads me to question his judgement in choosing it. Sanjaya, who I 've been supporting up until now, totally picked the wrong song when he chose Ain't No Mountain High Enough. That song was too big for him. To tell you the truth it doesn't matter what that poor boy sings or how well he does it - the judges just don't like him.

Brandon Rogers, Chris Richardson, Phil Stacy and even Stephanie Edwards didn't really cut the mustard either. And what the heck happened to fan favorite Blake Lewis? All of sudden his ear was made out of tin. I don't think he hit a single note.

Any one of them could be going home.

March 10, 2007

The Longest Day

It's another long Saturday. I'm still at the Belasco Theater and working Journey's End is becoming quite the traumatic experience. I'm glad tonight's performance will be the last time I see this play for a while. It's not that the play isn't good. Actually, it's the opposite. It's so good that I feel a sense of loss at the end of every show. And then there are the sound effects. Throughout the show you hear both gentle and exciting explosions in order to give you a sense of living conditions in the trenches. The show ends with a harrowing aural display of frightening whirs, bangs and blasts so loud the theater shakes. And when it does shake, the mold and must from 100 years of the Belasco being open, come loose. It smells quite bad, actually. Jon made a joke last night that I'm SMELL SHOCKED. Get it?

Anyway, I get some R&R this week when I work over at the Walter Kerr and then the Music Box. Thursday night I'm working Grey Gardens which is a really delightful play based on the kooky antics of Edith and Edith Beale, relatives of Jaqueline Kennedy O'Nassis. But the rest of the week, I'm working at The Vertical Hour - which is a play about war. But the play only discusses war, it doesn't actually show war, so that's not so bad. It might be war trying to please my half deaf patrons because of Julianne Moore's low speaking voice but that's another story.

To tell you the truth, I'd rather work back over at Curtains. It's the least depressing thing I've seen on Broadway in a long time.

March 09, 2007

American Idol Results - Surprising

The American Idol results show had two really big suprises.

Sabrina Sloane was sent home instead of Haley Scarnatto.
Sundance Head was sent home instead of Sanjaya Malakar.

March 07, 2007

Journey's End

Journey's End is quite a remarkable play. It's playing at the Belasco Theater and you need to see it. I provide a link to the Wikipedia entry but be warned that the description contains spoilers.

I don't want to ruin anything by explaining too much but I will tell you this.

It takes place in a trench in France during WWI. Occupying that trench is a squadron of English soldiers. The play explores the relationships between the officers. The playwright also tries to show us the many sides of valor and what bravery and friendship mean to men in times of duress.

It's good. It's Tony nomination good.

Try to see it.

American Idol - Then There Were 8 - Boys

One good thing I can say about last night's episode of American Idol - it was only one hour long. Five of the eight remaining contestants picked songs that were either boring or too hard for them to sing. For me, the best performances came from Blake Lewis and Chris Sligh. After them, I thought Sanjaya did well by picking a more upbeat song that let him show off the smokey quality he's capable of giving his voice when he sings. Of course, I am the cheese that stands alone in my belief that Sanjaya is a good singer. I hope he makes it to the final 12. I have faith in him.

Brandon Rogers tried to woo us with a funky song and while he did perform better this week, he was still boring. It's nice to see that he energy. He's the contestant I'm really rooting for but he makes it so difficult when he puts in mediocre performances every week. Sundance Head gave an equally mediocre performance as did Chris Richardson.

Jared Cotter and Phil Stacy are my choices for the two men who should go home on Thursday night. They both continue to creep me out with every performance. Phil Stacy was particularly creepy. Simon was right when he told Phil that he did somethine weird with his eyes. He looks crazy - in a good looking way. If he were to be cast in a crime drama, he would be cast as the handsome but scary looking criminal. And Jared Cotter is just funny looking. Add in that neither one of them are very good singers and you've got a recipe for receiving the least amount of votes.

March 06, 2007

16 Degrees of Separation

It wouldn't be the beginning of March if Lady Weather wasn't messing with our heads. After a strong beginning, with the first days of March providing us with mild weather, cold weather proves to us yet again that it is not ready to leave the tri-state area.

16 degrees separates me from the outside world. 16 degrees is enough to make me believe that I never want to leave this house again, yet leave I must. For later today I start a week long cycle of working at the Bellasco theater. The play is Journey's End and fun frolick through a World War I trench where soldiers contemplate the mysteries of life.

The production is being put on by the same group that staged History Boys. History Boys is famous in the assisted hearing community for having the worst sound of any show in the history of Broadway. Hopefully the powers that be have solved these problems and my job will not be that demanding this week.

March 03, 2007

Late Night Torture

Saturdays are long, long work days when I work them. I leave the house at 12:15 in the morning and I return home about 11:15 at night. Today was long, long, long.

One of the highlights of my long day was going home. I ran out of the theater, located at 45th and 8th, at 10:45, walked briskly to 47th and Bway. The train was just about to pull out when I ran through the turnstile and jumped in. I was so grateful that I made that train because after 11pm the N trains runs less frequently. "Ahhhh. Perfect", I thought. But life is seldom perfect when you're riding the New York City subway. There's always something happening to keep riders from getting too comfortable.

I got so absorbed in my book about the Judas Gospel, that it took about three stops, that's Lexington Avenue, for me to notice the annoying family sitting at the other end of the train. This mother was teaching her two daughters the poem Fuzzy Wuzzy Wuz A Bear which they then repeated over and over and over again. After repeating it about for what seemed like 1 billion times, the girls starting taking turns reciting variations on Fuzzy Wuzzy. They were still doing it when I was finally able to exit the train.

March 02, 2007

American Idol - Four More Gone

Nick Pedro and AJ Tabaldo performed their final verses in one of the corniest American Idol results shows I've seen in a while. And by a while I mean since last week. The show opened with the final 20 performing Joy To The World, possibly the corniest rock song ever written. The show also featured an corny but sweet performance from American Idol alum Kellie Pickler.

I always liked Kellie Pickler's personality but never thought she was that great a singer. They did her a favor by letting Ryan interview her because that really is what she does best - being adorable. She hasn't lost the small town charm that gives her the "it" quality sadly lacking in so many of the contestants this season. The song she sang seemed tailor made - about a father living apart from his daughter. She was in tears by the end of her performance, as was I. If you recall, she was raised by her grandfather because her mother abondoned her at the age of two and her father has been in and out of prison her whole life. Her life is basically the country song she was singing last night. And even though she sang most of it out of tune, it was still nice to watch her. Am I alone in believing that she had a boob job?

The other two contestants that went home certainly deserved to go. Leslie Hunt and Alaina Alexander both turned out mediocre performances in Wednesday's show. The biggest surprise was that Antonella Barba wasn't sent home but her demise is iminent. If she does make it past next week, I'll just have to assume that there is a national conspiracy to screw around with the American Idol formula.

When Sanjaya was told that he was safe and that AJ Tabaldo was going home, he looked utterly surprised. Then when the judges were asked if the right people were going home, they claimed that they weren't and that this was a singing contest and implied the votes didn't reflect that.

For the record, AJ Tabaldo does not sing as well as Sanjaya Malaker. AJ Tabaldo deserves to go home as does Nick Pedro. Sanjaya is a trained singer with a beautiful natural voice. He's just lacking experience. I hope he pulls it together next week and chooses a really good song so everyone else can see what I see which is a shit load of hardwork and talent that deserve recognition. I would love to hear him sing some really cool contemporary Indian music or some cool Qawwali music.

March 01, 2007

American Idol - Girls' Night

American Idol continued showing the contestants' dedications in short films before the women's performances.

Top 6
Anyway, after all the dedications and all the performances, these are my top 6 in the order that I liked them. These are also the six women I hope end up in the Final 12 grouping.

My Top 6

1. Melinda Doolittle - She dedicated her song to her two closes friends. One of those friends is a stylist who helps her with her fashion because she hates to shop just like me. Melinda sang My Funny Valentine and this was a perfect performance. She took her time and laid the song out for the audience like a comfortable blanket. And she stayed in tune for the whole song. And I really like her personality. She's really a singer, not just someone who wants to be a singer and you want her to do well because of it.

2. Lakisha Jones dedicated her song to her grandmother, Ruth Morris from Flint, Michigan. She chose Midnight Train to Georgia and she sang it really, really well. I thought she sang this song as perfectly as Melinda Doolittle sang hers. As a matter of fact I think these two will be in the final 4 and one of them will possibly be the winner of American Idol. Anyway, Midnight Train to Georgia was the perfect choice for Lakisha because the song requires somebody with a big soulful voice which is what Lakisha has.

3. Stephanie Edwards dedicated her song to her incredibly supportive parents who made her audition for American Idol because they believe in her that much. She sang a song called Dangerously In Love which I'd never heard before last night. If this had been an Olympic gymastics performance the song would have had a very high rating of difficulty. Every phrase started on a down beat and her performance consisted of well timed syncopated moments. She sounded great.

4. Jordin Sparks cried through her dedication to her younger brother. Reflections, originally recorded by Christina Aguilera had a strange tempo. She didn't sing as well as last week but she still sang well. And it's one of those songs that's perfect for a teenager to sing because the song is about self-awareness and self discovery.

5. Sabrina Sloan dedicated her song to her grandmother. She picked a Whitney Houston song, All the Man That I Need. She sang it well and didn't embarrass herself by taking on a big song like some of the other contestants. As a matter of fact, she really sold her performance but there is something off about her. You hear people talk about the "it factor". She just doesn't have "it" whatever "it" is.

6. Gina Glocksen dedicated her song to her boyfriend. She sang Alone by Heart which was a good choice for her because she represents the white rocker chick demographic. I personally didn't like her slinky, spaghetti strap red dress. Red is too aggressive. I find it off putting when people wear bright red while trying to invite people into their worlds. Second in importance to singing, contestants have to be likable, accessible. Wearing that F you shade of red will possibly work against her. She also needs to work on singing in tune. Her ear was off last night.

Bottom 4
Here are my bottom 4 with Antonella Barba at the bottom of the list.
Bottom 4

7. Leslie Hunt was almost good singing Feeling Good for her grandfather but then she ruined her song by scatting which was a big mistake because she's not very good at it. And on top of that it's hard to watch her spasmodic movements. I just don't buy her as a professional singer. And to do a song that was recorded by Nina Simone and hope to do it as well, she should know that she's even in the same league as Nina Simone.

8. Haley Scarnato dedicated her song to fiance Bobby. She sang Queen of the Night. Eh. At least she had energy.

9. Alaina Alexander sang Not Ready to Make Nice for her mother and proved yet again that she has a completely tin ear. I don't what it is about her but everytime she sings, I can't wait for her to be finished. There's something hungry about her, too desperate - like she'll kill herself if America doesn't vote for her. And that's not fun to watch.

10. Antonella Barba - she just stinks. She keeps asking the judges what she can do to be better and the answer is so obvious. She simply needs to sing better and how if she plans on staying in the competition. But if what she did last night is the best she can do, then she needs to go home. She sang Because You Loved Me in a dedication to her brother. It was a stupid choice because this song was recorded by Celine Dion and just about nobody sings better than Celine Dion. Then on top of that, she just didn't sing it well.

Well there you have it. My top 6 and my bottom 4. I predict that at least two people in my bottom four will be going home tonight.