Tag: Basil Twist

Review: The Nutcracker (Joffrey Ballet, 2017)

The Joffrey Ballet of Chicago presents The Nutcracker at Auditorium Theatre 2017 4            
      

  

The Nutcracker
 
Choreographed by Christopher Wheeldon
Story adapted by Brian Selznick
Auditorium Theatre, 50 E. Congress (map)
thru Dec 30  |  tix: $35 and up  |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets   
     

December 6, 2017 | 0 Comments More

Review: The Addams Family (Broadway in Chicago)

Douglas Sills (Gomez) and Sara Gettelfinger (Morticia) in THE ADDAMS FAMILY.       
      
The Addams Family 

Book by Marshall Brickman, Rick Elice
Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa
Directed by Julian Crouch & Phelim McDermott
Cadillac Palace Theatre, 151 W. Randolph (map)
thru Jan 1  |  tickets: $37-$100   |  more info
       
Check for half-price tickets 
    
        
        Read entire review
     

December 28, 2011 | 0 Comments More

Review: Beauty and the Beast (Broadway in Chicago)

  
  

Timeless story transcends wobbly production

  
  

Benjamin Lovell, Jen Bechter, Michael Haller, Erin Elizabeth Coors, Julia Louise Hosack, and Noah Jones as Chip

  
Broadway in Chicago and NETworks present
  
  
Disney’s Beauty and the Beast
 
Book by Linda Woolverton, Music by Alan Menken
Lyrics by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice
Directed by Rob Roth
at Ford Center for the Performing Arts, 24 W. Randolph (map)
through August 7  |  tickets: $18-$85  |  more info

Reviewed by Barry Eitel

The love story between a beautiful girl and a beastly prince has staying power—the original French fairy tale is centuries old. The most recent reincarnation, a horrendous movie featuring an Olson twin, at least illustrates how the tale is still in the modern consciousness. Let’s not forget there was also that ‘80s TV show. The quintessential telling of the story, however, will always be Disney’s 1991 smash hit full of dancing home furnishings, the only animated film to be nominated for Best Picture until Pixar Dane Agostinis (The Beast) and Emily Behny (Belle)came along. Logically, Alan Menken’s catchy music in the movie was transformed into a Broadway musical. Now it’s a favorite of high schools around the country. And a new non-Equity tour that’s settling down at the Oriental.

Dollar for dollar, a high school production may be the better value.

Let me qualify that—the performances here are not so bad. The spectacle is pretty neat most of the time. But it’s outrageous that people are shelling out 85 bucks when there is exponentially better theatre in town for a fraction of the price.

The plot follows the story and music of the film closely, with a few stage adjustments to flesh out the characters. The living cutlery looks more human. It’s not as innovative as Julie Taymor’s The Lion King (remember when she was innovative?) but it ain’t plush costumes, either. In fact, the screen-to-stage adaption is graceful and embraces the challenges of the medium.

What’s going on at the Oriental, though, is a roughly-sketched copy of the original. The town’s wishing well is wobbly. The orchestra is stripped down to the bare minimum. And the performances are terribly broad, almost across the board.

Dane Agostinis’ Beast, for example, is pretty un-beastly. Agostinis goes for some weird comic choices that diminish the character. It works for the awkward courtship, but not so much when he is supposed to terrify us. Most of the comic relief characters have a similar problem with commitment to the material. Benjamin Lovell’s Cogsworth gets too caught up in trying to appear stuffy and so he never actually comes across as stuffy. Andrew Kruep’s clownish Lefou (Gaston’s bumbling sidekick) has some great physical bits—he pulls a few moves that look like he stepped out of a cartoon—but he doesn’t back them up with the emotional stakes great clowning requires.

Logan Denninghoff as Gaston, Andrew Kruep as Lefou, and the villagers in Disney's "Beauty and the Beast". Photo by Joan Marcus

Emily Behny’s Belle carries the show well enough. She doesn’t always portray Belle’s driving individuality, but she taps into her sense of humor and genuine sweetness. Logan Denninghoff plays her foil, Gaston, with gusto, something Agostinis could learn from. Michael Haller’s lecherous Lumiere is another shining performance (pardon the pun). His amusing goofiness trumps most of the other objects’ posturing.

This Beauty and the Beast feels fundamentally cheap. Instead of reevaluating concepts and execution, it feels like NETworks is trying to put up a Broadway-level show with a much smaller budget. The diminished orchestra fails to fill the space and many of the ensemble numbers seem empty of vibrancy. “Be Our Guest,” one of the most cherished numbers of the original, is anticlimactic no matter how much Haller hams it up. They should have took the show back to the drawing board and played up their strengths.

Nevertheless, the classic parable of inner beauty wins out. This non-equity tour is much less fun than the movie, but it has its fair share of magic up its sleeves. The tour feels like an imitation in every sense. If you’ve always hankered to see the animation in real life, this is something you should check out. Otherwise, I’d implore you to see something local with more spirit.

  
  
Rating: ★★
   

 Emily Behny as Belle, and the cast of Disney's "Beauty and the Beast" in the number "Be Our Guest". Photo by Joan Marcus

   

July 2, 2011 | 1 Comment More

Addams Family set to go through Revisions

“Revisions” for ‘Addams Family’ before Broadway run

The Addams Family
Ford Center for the Performing Arts, Oriental Theatre

As the musical begins, there are storm clouds gathering over the Addams Family home. Wednesday is falling in love, and guess who's coming to dinner?

Synopsis:
In this original story, the famously macabre Addams Family is put to the test when outsiders come to dinner, hurling Gomez, Morticia, Wednesday, Pugsley, Fester, Grandmama and Lurch headlong into a night that will change the family forever.
Show Advisory:
None
Genre:
Musical
Cast List:
Nathan Lane, Bebe Neuwirth, Terrence Mann, Carolee Carmello, Kevin Chamberlin, Jackie Hoffman, Zachary James, Adam Riegler, Wesley Taylor, and Krysta Rodriguez
Production Credits:
Direction and design by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch
Lighting design by Natasha Katz
Sound design by Acme Sound Partners
Puppetry by Basil Twist
Music direction by Mary-Mitchell Campbell
Orchestrations by Larry Hochman
Dance arrangements by August Eriksmoen
Hair design by Tom Watson

Special effects design by Greg Meeh
Fight direction by Rick Sordelet
Heidi Miami Marshall will serve as associate director

Other Credits:
Lyrics by: Andrew Lippa
Music by: Andrew Lippa
Book by: Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice The producers of Addams Family, set for a spring Broadway opening, have hired the Tony Award-winning director Jerry Zaks as a consultant for the $16.5 million production, attempting to revive the musical from its less-than-glowing reviews.

perhaps we were taking a little too much for granted assuming that the audience walks in with the relationship with the Addams family fully intact, and we didn’t appropriately reconnect the audience to the family members,” said producer Stuart Oken.

No one on the creative team has left the show or been fired, Mr. Oken said, with Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch still listed as the directors and production designers, and Mr. Zaks billed as creative consultant.

Mr. Zaks is close to Mr. Lane, having directed him in the long-running Broadway musical revivals of Guys and Dolls in 1992 and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum in 1996, for which Mr. Lane won the Tony Award for best actor in a musical.

The musical’s lead producers, Stuart Oken and Roy Furman have admitted that the plot needed to focus more tightly on the Addams family members and that all roles, starting with Gomez (Nathan Lane) and Morticia (Bebe Neuwirth), needed their eccentric and subversive personalities clearly established in dialogue and song before the main action of the plot begins.

 

Bebe Neuwirth and Nathan Lane 1

January 29, 2010 | 0 Comments More

“Addams Family” announces creative team

addams family musical logo The creative team for the Broadway production of The Addams Family, to be directed and designed by Phelim McDermott and Julian Crouch, will include two-time Tony Award winner Natasha Katz (lighting), Acme Sound Partners (sound), Obie Award-winner Basil Twist (puppetry), Mary-Mitchell Campbell (music direction), Larry Hochman (orchestrations), Greg Meeh (special effects), and Rick Sordelet (fight direction).

Addams Family, the Musical, based on the bizarre family of characters created by legendary cartoonist Charles Addams, is holding its pre-Broadway run here in Chicago from November 13, 2009-January 10, 2010 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts’ Oriental Theater in Chicago.  The show has a book by Marshall Brickman and Rick Elice, music and lyrics by Andrew Lippa, and choreography by Sergio Trujillo

bebe_neuwirth_blankandwhiteOnce the production moves to Broadway, Addams Family – the Musical will play the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, with previews beginning March 4, in anticipation of an April 8 opening.

As previous mentioned in this blog, the production will star Nathan Lane and Bebe Neuwirth (photo on right) as Gomez and Morticia Addams, with Terrence Mann and Carolee Carmello as Mal and Alice Beineke, a couple who come to dinner at the family’s residence. The cast will also feature Kevin Chamberlin (Uncle Fester), Jackie Hoffman (Grandmama), Zachary James (Lurch), Adam Riegler (Pugsley), Krysta Rodriguez (Wednesday), and Wesley Taylor (Lucas Beineke). Additional casting will be announced at later dates.

September 1, 2009 | 0 Comments More