Saturday, December 29, 2012

Golden Boy @ Belasco Theatre

            What makes a person a "Golden Boy?" The mass public; they simply look for the guy who can sell the image and then simply give him them the title. That’s what happens to Joe Bonaparte in Clifford Odet’s Golden Boy. One gets thrown to the top; however when things go sour, just see how fast people drop will drop you.
The plot revolves around 21-year-old Joe, a New York kid torn between music and boxing as the path to his success. Which road to choose? It's a classic conflict. Joe’s father, an Italian immigrant, played by Tony Shalhoub, wants his son to pursue playing the violin as his life and career, but Joe is drawn to brawling and the fame and fortune that it can bring. His choice brings sweet success, but only in the short run.
Seth Numrich (War Horse) plays Joe Bonaparte, the sensitive son whose hunger for the big-time American dream makes him choose between a life as Violin player and a professional boxer. In almost three hours, we watch an actor transform physically into a convincing fighting machine and, ultimately, to a barely recognizable monster of sharp edges and shadows. Numrich truly delivers another inspiring performance. Yvonne Strahovski, making her Broadway debut, played Lorna Moon - the love interest. Strahovski delivered a very simple performance that didn’t leave the audience feeling anything for her throughout the play; she was not a point of focus (other then when her accent would slip out). Danny Mastrogiorgio (A Steady Moon) and Anthony Crivello (Kiss of the Spider Woman) were the manager of Joe, Tom Moody, and Eddie Fuseli. Mastrogiogio and Cirvello were essentially good cop/bad cop and played off of each other very well. Cirvello was a bit cartoony at times making him difficult to take him seriously at times; while Mastrogiorgio seemed to sell his character more and more as the show went on. Mastrogiorgio and Strahovski were a love interest throughout the play but the audience wouldn’t know by their lack of attraction for each other. Tony Shalhoub (Lend Me a Tenor) played Mr. Bonaparte, the loving Italian father of Joe. Shalhoub ripped out the hearts of every audience member leaving everyone in tears. He delivers an incredible and Tony Award winning performance. Michael Aronov (Blood and Gifts) and Dagmara Dminczyk (The Violet Hour) portrayed over excited Siggie and adorable Anna, the madly in love married couple. Aronov and Dminczyk were the two people the audience wanted to watch; the chemistry on stage was impeccable. The ensemble stand out of the evening was Brad Fleischer (Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo) taking on the minor, but challenging role of Pepper White - washed up boxer. Fleicher was maybe in about ten minutes of the entire show; however that did not matter because he left the audience remembering Pepper White.
This production team is the dream team of Broadway; everything they created for the intense period show came over visually stunning. Directing this tough drama was Bartlett Sher (Blood and Gifts). Sher created great visual images and never left the audience feeling bored or lost (not once did Sher having us feeling the length of the three hour play). Catherine Zuber (South Pacific) did the costume design; it appeared as if Zuber ripped every costume piece out of a 1930’s movie, truly inspirational. The light design was done by Donald Holder (Annie). Holder has created many a mater piece and this is no exception to his recent designs, he created a comfortable and visual stunning atmosphere for the entirety of the show. Michael Yeargan (South Pacific) was responsible for the scenic design which was over all visually pleasing for a majority of the show but a lot of the time seemed 2 dimensional. Also a truck could have been driven through some of the set changes; every single one seemed to drag on to be what seemed to be forever. Thankfully the subpar set did not bring down the rest of the technical aspects.
Golden Boy embodies what there needs to be more of on Broadway. The performance was truly inspiring to watch and should not be missed by any serious theatre goer. Golden Boy runs through January 20, 2013 at the Belasco Theatre - don’t miss out.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bare @ New World Stages Stage 4

Faggot. This word is used every day, but nobody understands the type of impact it can have on people when it is used. How much it hurts. The world each day has tons of teens coming out and being ridiculed because they are a little different; they don’t fit the status quo. Bare explores how media and word of mouth can affect a person’s life.
Bare is an exhilarating new rock musical that follows a group of teens trying to navigate the tightrope to adulthood over the minefield of high school. Along with their teachers, they will wrestle with issues of identity, sexuality, religion and love.
Jason Hite, in his Off-Broadway debut, led the cast as Jason, the confused popular guy, who is just trying to make his way through high school. Hite poured his heart and soul into this role and left the audience begging for more. Taylor Trensch (Wicked) played opposite Hite as his star crossed lover Peter. It was clear to the audience the Peter was madly in love with Jason, and had the audiences heart breaking every time Jason broke his heart. Hite and Trensch are a match made in heaven - both with a long career ahead of them. Elizabeth Judd (Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark) played the new school transfer Ivy. Judd was incredible to watch and had the audience in the palm of her hand. After everything that was going on in the show, she never let the audience forget about poor old Ivy. Gerard Canonico (Spring Awakening) portrayed Matt, the popular but miss understood good boy. Canonico acted with passion, yet somehow fell flat next to this power house cast. He gave the audience nothing that could help us remember him except for the part where he is a key point the climax of the show. Barrett Wilbert Weed (Lysistrata Jones) played Nadia, the drug selling sister of Jason. Weed had wonderful voice and a great acting talent, but there were times in the show where she looked dead in the eyes and appeared absent. Jerold E. Solomon (South Pacfic) and Missi Pyle (Boeing – Boeing) played the two adults of the school - Father Mike and Sister Joan. Solomon was the Reverend of the school and his outlook on things that did not agree with the religion can really make a person sick, Solomon delivered his role with respect and dignity. Pyle was the fresh new teacher who just transferred in to the school that was more into the health and well being of the students rather then what the religion says is right. Pyle had an honest quality about her and a wonderful singing voice to top it off. Pyle also played the stage diva, The Virgin Mary, and created a wonderful show stopping number. The ensemble stand out of the show was Alice Lee (Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark) who plays Diana, the na├»ve friend of Peter. She brought an exciting and fun energy to the stage and had the audience rolling on the floor laughing during the song “Best Friends”.
Stafford Arima has done it again folks; fresh off his run of the reworked and revisited Broadway flop Carrie: the Musical, Arima had another chance to work with a reworked musical and did not disappoint. It was clear that this was Arima’s work because it was full of sharp movement and blocking that constantly moved, but that always seems to work for him. Donyale Werle (Peter and the Starcatcher) did the set design and this Tony Award winning designer did not disappoint once again. She kept the set nice and simple, with crosses everywhere and pictures wallpapering the walls. It was just simple enough to give the show the type of impact the show needed. Howell Binkley (A Christmas Story) did the light design. Binkley kept the show bright and colorful until the show started to get more dark and emotional where he made the lighting do the same thing. William Cusick (The Coast of Utopia) did the projection design and for this updated show, projection was just what it needed especially during the climax of the show.
The world needs to know how harsh the media is and how harsh words are. Separate they can do minimal damage but together, they can cause catastrophic damage to a person. Head down to New World Stages and check out Bare: the Musical.