Tag Archives: Broadway Show

Shaggs: Philosophy of The World Comes to the Off Broadway Stage!

If I didn’t have a calendar in front of me I’d swear it was April Fools’ Day, because I just read about a new musical coming to off-Broadway which is based on the true story of the late sixties’ all female rock band, The Shaggs. For those unfamiliar with this pop cultural phenomenon, the band was composed of sisters Dorothy “Dot” Wiggin (vocals/lead guitar), Betty Wiggin (vocals/rhythm guitar), Helen Wiggin (drums), and later Rachel Wiggin (bass). The Shaggs were formed by Dot, Betty, and Helen in 1968 on the insistence of their father, Austin Wiggin, who believed that his mother foresaw the band’s rise to stardom. The Shaggs’ only studio album, Philosophy of the World, was released in 1969 and failed to garner attention, though the band continued to exist as a locally popular live act. The Shaggs disbanded in 1975 after their father’s death. Today, the band is primarily notable for their perceived ineptitude at playing conventional rock music; the band was described in one Rolling Stone article as “…sounding like lobotomized Trapp Family singers.” In some circles, however, The Shaggs are seen as a groundbreaking outsider music group, receiving praise from mainstream artists such as Kurt Cobain and also from Frank Zappa after he called the Shaggs “better than the Beatles.”

As art imitates life, the play tells the story of a working-class dad’s a vision of rock-n-roll destiny for his three talentless daughters, convinced that they are his family’s one-way ticket out of hardship and obscurity. Shaggs: Philosophy of the World is directed by John Langs, coproduced by New York Theatre Workshop and South Ark Stage. The book is by Joy Gregory, music by Gunnar Madsen, and lyrics by Gregory and Madsen. Personally, I can’t wait to see it.

For two evenings in April, curious Shaggs’ fans can sneak a peek of the new musical, prior to its May 2011 debut at New York’s Playwrights Horizons. On Sunday and Monday, April 17and 18, excerpts will be performed at the Guggenheim Museum (1071 Fifth Avenue at 89th Street) at 7:30 PM. Irwin Chusid will also moderate a discussion with members of the production’s creative team. It should be a good time. Tickets for this event are $30 General Public, $25 Guggenheim members and $10 for Students under 25 with valid ID. Click through to This Link to purchase.

Must See Show: Spider-Man, Turn Off The Dark

Julie Taymor is an extremely literal-minded director. That much is in evidence if you’ve seen the film Across the Universe, a Taymor-directed 2006 release in which she visually interpreted, word-for-word, a cache of The Beatles’ most popular songs in order to tell the most simple-minded love story imaginable.

Continue reading Must See Show: Spider-Man, Turn Off The Dark

Must See Show: The Pee-Wee Herman Show Opens on Broadway!

 

Pee-Wee-Herman-Show-Playbill-10-26

It seems so funny to think that these days, Pee-wee Herman, a character made famous by the gifted actor Paul Ruebens, is a household name. Most people know Pee-wee from the wonderfully infamous Saturday morning ‘children’s’ program, Pee-wee’s Playhouse, but Pee-wee’s roots are a bit more ‘indie-based.’ Pee-wee’s vehicle for his eventual launch to international superstardom was The Pee-wee Herman Show, a 1981 stage play that became a wildly successful HBO special and thus spawned the entire Pee-wee Herman franchise, including films such as Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and, not long after, Pee-wee’s Playhouse.

In January and February of this year, Ruebens revived The Pee-Wee Herman Show for a successful run at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles, and the play has now moved to the Stephen Sondheim Theatre on West 43rd Street, where it will make its home until January 2, 2011. The Pee-wee Herman Show officially opens today (November 11th) but Geoffrey and I were fortunate to catch the last night of previews and we had a total blast.

The Pee-wee Herman Show on Broadway remains extremely faithful to the original script, so if you’ve seen the HBO special, no matter how long ago that was, most of the show will be familiar to you. Pee-wee still consorts with many of the same characters, with just a few new ones added and others retired. Lynne Marie Stewart reprises her role as Miss Yvonne, “the most beautiful woman in Puppetland,” and John Paragon also returns as Jambi, the Genie in a Box. The only significant change in casting, though many probably won’t notice, as the lines of dialogue are identical, is the substitution of Cowboy Curtis (who made his debut on the Saturday morning show) for Captain Karl, originally played by the late Phil Hartman, as Miss Yvonne’s love interest.

Some jokes have also been updated and fresh pop culture references added to bring everything a bit more up to date. For example, in this show Pee-wee struggles with having the Internet installed in the Playhouse for the first time, wears an “Abstinence ring” and makes friends with a talking, flying Sham Wow. Returning characters include Mailman Mike and puppet favorites like Pterri the pterodactyl – who is awesome – Chairy, Clockey the USA wall-map/clock, Randy, Globey and Conkey the Robot. We also get to see the claymation cartoon, “Penny” and the vintage “Mr. Bungle” 1950s educational film about good manners, which is just insane. Geoffrey and I loved every minute of the performance, but my favorite part was at the very end, when Jambi grants Pee-wee’s wish to fly. Seeing Pee-wee, “The luckiest boy in the world,” fly through the air over the stage was hilarious.

It’s also worth noting that the Playhouse set is so vibrant, so colorful, and there is so much to take in visually at all times that when the curtain first rose and the lights hit the stage, I literally could not hold back a squeal.

Tickets for The Pee-wee Herman Show are pricey but worth it. Definitely see it if you can!

Must See Broadway Show: Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking!

Wishful Drinking Playbill Cover

Even though I live right in the heart of hustling, bustling Manhattan, I do not tend to see a lot of Broadway shows, particularly since being made to suffer the tortures of the damned that is Spring Awakening. But when Geoffrey came back from having seen Carrie Fisher’s one woman show, Wishful Drinking, with non-stop rave reviews, I knew I had to check it out. Because Geoffrey knows his funny. Knowing that my BFF Sue would be in town visiting me from LA this past weekend, I purchased a couple of tickets for us to see Wishful Drinking on Saturday evening. (BTW Goldstar Events has tickets for selected show dates on sale for half price, so I recommend checking that site first before going to the box office/Ticketmaster). Needless to say, we were not disappointed.

Wishful Drinking Geneology

In Wishful Drinking, Ms. Fisher, the actress best known to everyone as the iconic Princess Leia from Star Wars, candidly enthralls the audience with various excerpts from her recent autobiography of the same title. From the flow-chart-style examination of her convoluted “celebrity” family tree (her parents are actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher) to her “behind the scenes” tidbits about working with director George Lucas on Star Wars, to her marriages, bouts with drug rehab and ongoing treatment for Bipolar Disorder, Carrie takes a brutally frank approach to peeling back the layers of her darkly comic and extremely fascinating life. Mental illness was never so hilarious! Sue and I completely fell in love with Carrie while laughing our asses off. Immediately after the show ended, we ran around to the back of the theater and hovered briefly by the stage door, from which Carrie soon exited and cheerfully signed our Playbills! Yay for souvenirs! Trust me, even if you think Star Wars blows, this is one Broadway show you will not want to miss if at all humanly possible, because Carrie Fisher is awesome.

Wishful Drinking runs through January 3, 2010 at the Roundabout Theater (formerly Studio 54), 254 West 54th Street; (212) 719-1300. Running time: 2 hours & 20 minutes (including a 15 minute intermission).
Continue reading Must See Broadway Show: Carrie Fisher’s Wishful Drinking!