By Jeff Walsh
Transgender dinosaur musical.
I don't know where I first saw those three words together, but I was immediately hooked. The phrase prepared you in advance. You knew the show wasn't going to be serious. You knew it was a musical. And, most obviously, that there would be dinosaurs. The reality was even more fun.
This musical spoof of Jurassic Park, begins with Morgan Freeman explaining some of the backstory, by which I mean a tall white actor who introduces himself as Morgan Freeman, the character he will play for the duration of the show, who is often mistaken for Samuel L. Jackson by the cast.
But let's face it, the show is really about actors portraying dinosaurs while singing uptempo numbers, doing fun choreography, and questioning gender identity.
By Jeff Walsh
When I first saw the program for Girlfriend, a new musical based on Matthew Sweet's 1991 album of the same name, I was surprised to only see two names on the cast list. I knew the show was about two teenaged boys who fall in love, but where would the drama come from? It just seemed a tall order to have no outside pressures or voices.
Watching the beginning of the show, though, made me think of a lot of the journals I see here on Oasis on a regular basis, and then I immediately remembered that gay teens don't need external forces to create drama. You can do enough damage on your own.
Girlfriend obviously takes place in the recent past, as the popular student Mike gives the nerdier gay boy Will a mix tape of songs he likes. Like, a literal cassette tape (You can see what one looks like here). Will, of course tries to figure out why this boy, who has all but ignored him for years, is now giving him cassettes and wanting to talk on the phone right before graduation. The mix tape becomes the soundtrack of their relationship, the songs they sing alone and together, and the way they can let their feelings come to the surface in ways they don't when they're just awkwardly talking.
My singing instructor told me that i need to exercise more to make my lungs stronger , cause i have problems singing and dancing at the same time .
The Outcast Boy
By Jeff Walsh
"Were the World Mine" is the perfect wish fulfillment movie musical for gay youth once the only openly gay student at a homophobic all-boys school finds a magic potion that makes people fall in love with the first same-sex person they see. Hello there, straight crush…
The film, which opens in San Francisco, Berkeley and New York City this week (see the online schedule for future cities), is a joyous, heartwarming romp inspired by Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
In the movie, Timothy (Tanner Cohen) is the classic gay outcast: picked on at gym, bullied in the locker room, with a crush on an athlete that he knows will go unfulfilled. He's out to his mother, and has supportive friends, but that doesn't make him feel less alone.
The school is putting on the Shakespeare play, and Timothy is cast as Puck. He has musical, choreographed daydreams starring the same boys who pick on him. Things really get going when, inspired by the play, Timothy follows a recipe for Cupid's love potion that appears within the pages of his script and a purple flower from his dream follows him back to the real world. He quickly discovers that anyone sprayed by the flower falls in love with the first person of the same sex they see.
By Jeff Walsh
The last time I reviewed Spring Awakening, it was a week into its Broadway run. Since that time, it went on to become a runaway hit, netting 8 Tony Awards (including Best Musical) and recently started its national tour in San Francisco.
Reading my old review again after seeing the touring production on opening night, my issues with the show remain. It hasn't lost any of its intensity and the songs are very familiar to me, but the dual nature of the show still never really gels to me, but I like both halves enough to still consider it a nice night out. Since I haven't really changed my mind on the show, you can read that original review for the show details and such.
The only other issue I had with the show are nothing new when seeing a touring show after first seeing the original cast on Broadway. When the people on the cast recording match the people you saw onstage and visualize when you're listening to the CD, it is always odd to see these "other" people saying the same lines, wearing the same clothes, and singing the same songs. That's nothing new with this show, and only happens when you strongly identify with the people you saw first perform the roles.
By Jeff Walsh
Snehal Desai is 28 years old, and only finished his master's degree in directing from Yale University three months ago, but he's already made his way to San Francisco with his one-man show.
"Finding Ways to Prove You're NOT an Al Qaeda Terrorist When You're Brown (and other stories of the gIndian) is Desai's one-man show exploring his life as a gay Indian through monologues that explore his sexual, spiritual, pharmaceutical, and cultural dimensions. From ex-boyfriends who both invent and then eroticize his curry-scented skin to family members who keep pushing him toward arranged marriages, the show moves quickly through its various terrains.
Some of the show's best moments take place when Desai's character (we'll get into the whole non-autobiographical one-man show aspect in the interview) visits India and finds the country's openness about same-sex intimacy refreshing, even if it isn't completely indicative of its acceptance of homosexuality. He also explores the pain of queer children forced to confirm to that society's will, yet at the same time finds poetry and beauty in a kite-flying competition that encapsulates the best qualities of the human spirit, if we could all looking at one another the same way permanently.
I saw the show tonight, but spoke with Desai yesterday, catching up with him in middle of tech rehearsal for his West coast premiere. Here's what we said:
Spending the entire summer at the theater is my idea of heaven. Even if heaven does involve an awful lot of push-ups. Yes people, acting is not all glamor, we the students do have to work out every morning. Not sure what the full company members do. :-)
Last weekend I was in my school's production of the Laramie Project it was awesome. I mean I cried by the end of every show but it was amazing to be a part of. For those of you who don't know, Laramie Project is a play that is made from a collection of interviews with people of the town of Laramie Wyoming after the beating and death of Mathew Shephard in 1998 because he was gay.
Wow, it's been SO LONG since I posted on here! I'm sorry, guys. Forgive me?
With most series, I find the second book usually isn't quite as good as the first. But with Paul Ruditis's DRAMA! series, that is not the case. Everyone's A Critic is definitely better than the first book.
The characters are exactly the same as before: Bryan the gay guy; Hope the goth; Sam the poor over-achiever; Alexis and Belinda the evil step-sisters; and Holly the evildoer.
The school year has ended but, at Orion, school doesn't end when summer begins, a mandatory two-week theatre camp for all drama majors makes the school year last a little longer. Normally they put on a play, do a few acting drills and help the soccer players. This year Hartley Blackstone, a famous Broadway director, is using these two weeks as an audition for his summer apprenticeship, which would mean some of the best actor training available and having many doors opened for the future. The catch is there are only two spots available: one male and one female.
All right, here's an update on my life right now:
By Jeff Walsh
For more than 40 years, Kiki and Herb have been consummate entertainers. But you may want to check them out soon, judging from their recent "Alive From Broadway" show at the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco (playing through July 29), a testament that not everything improves with age.
Their set-list shows that if you polish something, it can become beautiful and sparkling; but if you polish it too much over 40 years, it can become dull and the seams begin to show.
"Make Yourself Comfortable" is a song my grandmother probably sang along to in the late 1950s, the original recording still young and alive. In concert, though, the magic is all but gone; Kiki preferring to drink her way through one more gig, while Herb lets his seeming contempt for her frustrate him to the point where all the lessons he learned in anger management class drain out of him, his back-up vocals more invective than harmony.
Honestly, it's a GLBT forum. So:
Spring Awakening is three for three!!! YAAAAY!!!! I've been jumping up and down and screaming this entire time (and when Idina and Taye came on... <333 ) Not the best idea, because I've got a chorus performance in two days, but still... OMGOMGOMGTONYS!!!! BROADWAY, YOU ARE THE LOVE OF MY LIFE!!!!!
Lalalala, I'm finished teching my first real show! Go me! No major errors!!!
By Jeff Walsh
Spring Awakening is the newest show on Broadway (at the time of this writing), fusing together the text of a controversial-for-its-time play with a rock score by singer/songwriter Duncan Sheik. Fusing the two elements together made for some great musical moments and some interesting dramatic moments, although they rarely overlapped. First, we are in a Latin class in a German school in 1891, then one of the kids reaches into his jacket, pulls out a microphone, and all of the angst from the previous scene fuels the song as the electric guitar and drums kick into high gear.
I liked both sides of the show, the classic play and the rock concert, although it rarely seemed to fuse into one experience. When it did, such as the close of act one, when the young couple make love on a miniature floating stage, as the singing cast sit around them, rocking them slowly, and singing "I Believe," it was inspired magic, the reason people go to the theater, a moment of pure exhilaration when every element of the production combined flawlessly to create something greater than each of its parts. The cast, the music, and the audience all went somewhere else together in that chorus, and came out the other side better for the journey.
By Jeff Walsh
I'll admit up front that I was hesitant seeing "Avenue Q," primarily because the people who talked it up got really excited when The Muppet Show was released on DVD. They reeked of bias. Not that I'm anti-puppet, necessarily. It was always an issue of "but there are all these other shows to see with, like, people in them." My fears ended up being misguided.
"Avenue Q" admittedly doesn't take itself seriously, but it's not self-referential or a send-up of a Broadway musical done with puppets, either. The show stands on its own. The songs are all fun, well-written, and memorable. The strangest thing to process was the puppeteers performing onstage with their puppets on one hand and wands to move the puppet's arms in the other. The natural inclination was to look at the puppeteers, despite them being clad in neutral tones and delivering their performances through their puppets. They often had the same expressions as their puppets, and were fully invested in the role so they were singing fully and passionately (it wasn't ventriloquism). But after a while, you'd realize that the scene, songs, and sightlines were all happening between the puppets and the human actors playing other roles onstage, so you eventually shifted your focus.