Broadway Bullets and Broadway Bound…

Big Fish
Big Fish

Tuesday night I hopped the 1 train and went to catch me a, Big Fish, on Broadway. The show began previews last week and I was curious as I had enjoyed the querky little movie by the same name which was released in 2003, starring Albert Finney and Ewan McGregor as the older and younger Bloom. It was directed by Tim Burton. Both are based on the 1998 novel by Daniel Wallace.

Big Fish is directed and choreographed by Susan Stroman. She has earned 4 Tony’s for choreographing, Crazy For You, the revival of Show Boat, Contact and The Producers, which Stroman also earned a Tony for Best Direction.

Stroman creates the fantastical adventures through a combination of old-world staging and cutting-edge technology. The staging and effects are the highlights of the show. For example, the onstage river is made of wood planks and then transformed through digital magic. It embodies the theme of the show which is about what is real and what is fantasy. Norbert Leo Butz is endearing in the role of Edward Bloom. He is a Broadway box office attraction and Butz has previously starred in Dead Accountants with Katie Holmes, Catch Me If You Can, Rent, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels…and many more.

He is ably supported by the outstanding voices of Kate Baldwin, who plays his wife and Bobby Steggert who plays his son. As with many musicals it has sustained slow parts, mediocre songs and silliness, but it is an engaging play in which the digital enhancement creates an exciting template.

Romeo and Juliet is also in previews on Broadway, starring Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad, the daughter of Phylicia Rashad (Clair Huxtable) and Ahmad Rashad, the former NFL wide receiver.

I enjoyed the modern interpretation cast in black and white. The Montagues are white and Capulet family, black, in the contemporary production. Bloom makes his entrance on a motorcycle which is very, Street Car Named Desire. He is quite appealing and his performance is surprisingly good. The problem I had and, call me a hopeless romantic, but I felt that Romeo and Juliet (Bloom and Rashad) lacked chemistry. If you are going to die for someone then there must be blazing fire. The flame was never ignited. That being said, I did enjoy the production along with the excellent supporting cast. Orlando looks mighty fine in a V-neck white T-shirt, ripped, faded jeans and red Doc Martens. Broadway standout, Jayne Houdyshell, plays the part of Juliet’s nurse and gives her usual, commanding performance.

Other recommendations for a great night out on Broadway:

Once, the sweet and tender love story based on the movie. The rousing Four Seasons biography, Jersey Boys. The irreverent, Book of Mormon, the classic, Lion King, the hilariously clever and well written, Avenue Q.

Matilda is great for kids and the cast and sets are outstanding. Rock of Ages is just a good ‘ole time 80’s rock concert…several of my former clients music is showcased…as with Momma Mia, music and the last 5-10 minutes of the show are worth the price of admission.

Duds include: Motown, which has the worse written book ever. I cannot believe how untalented the actors are. Not one sounded like their alter ego, Diana Ross, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, etc. Pippin’s staging is marvelous, but what a bore. I do believe I am the only person who did not like, Kinky Boots…bland music, predictable, but lead actor, Billy Porter, is fabulous. Spider-Man Turn Off The Dark, is only suitable for the hearing impaired. Visually it is tantalizing, but the music and story line are pathetic…talk about a turn off.

Excitement for the fall season is being generated by the dynamic married couple, Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz who are starring in Pinter’s, Betrayal. This should be a stunner even though I am not a Pinter fan. A Night With Janis Joplin, a concert-theater event, starts previews September 20th and Mary Bridget Davies, purportedly does a creditable interpretation.

Beautiful, The Carole King Musical, tells the story of the transformation of a Brooklyn kid, Carole Klein, into the successful singer-songwriter. My college memories are all tied up in her remarkable songs. Previews begin November 21st.

There will be a dual Montague-Capulet in NY when the Off Broadway version version debuts with Olsen twin, Elizabeth and T.R. Knight (Grey’s Anatomy). Previews begin September 27th.

A Time To Kill, John Grisham’s novel and 1996 movie, begins September 28th. If this is a success, he has over 20 others that can be converted to Broadway.

The Snow Geese, a new play starring Mary-Louise Parker, begins October 1st. The 2006 movie, Little Miss Sunshine, will debut on Broadway November 14th. James Lapine wrote the book and directs. (Know for Sunday In The Park With George, Into The Woods, he is a great guy, I grew up with him)

Twelfth Night and Richard III, starring the extraordinary English actor and Broadway star, Mark Rylance, will offer a golden opportunity to see him in both plays (In Twelfth Night, he plays a woman) with previews starting October 15th. He is worth the price of admission.

Sarah Jessica Parker and Blythe Danner will portray mother and daughter in, The Commons of Pensacola. The play is written and directed by actress, Amanda Peet. Previews begin October 22.

Outstanding and dynamic Broadway performer, Jefferson Mays, brings, A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder, to Broadway starting October 22nd.

Billy Crystal’s autobiographical play, 700 Sundays, returns to Broadway November 5th.

Looking ahead to 2014…January 13th is the date for the new play, Bridges of Madison County, based on the best-selling 1992 book and 1995 film, which starred Meryl Streep and Clint Eastwood.

Rocky, yes, that Rocky, is set for previews in February, 2014, along with Bullets Over Broadway and Neil Patrick Harris starring in, Hedwig and the Angry Inch. I saw this Off Off Broadway in the 1990’s and it was fabulous. Previews are also set for March.

Just a partial peek at what is to come on Broadway in the next year…hope you are all Broadway Bound…

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