The Only Way to Describe the Beanie Feldstein/Funny Girl Dustup is a Dumpster Fire

In Hollywood, one of the methods that producers use to fill seats is to hire performers who are well known to the audience. The problem is that this method does not always work. Just because an actor is famous does not guarantee that they are right for the role or that fans will respond in a positive manner.

For the last few months, Beanie Feldstein has been headling in the new revival of Funny Girl. Though most of the reviews were not entirely bad, they were not entirely good either. Though I haven’t seen it, close family members have. What they told me echoed what has been written about the production.

Feldstein was supposed the role of Fanny Brice until the end of September. She is now leaving at the end of this month.

To be fair, this is the first revival of the musical since its premiere in 1964. Given that the only person who has played the title role is Barbra Streisand, the expectations perhaps need to be a little more realistic..

Lea Michele of Glee fame will be taking over from Feldstein in the fall. Though it has only been a few days, the rumor mill in regards to Michele’s supposed diva behavior has not stopped churning.

I’m obviously not in showbusiness. But I have been in the working world for nearly two decades. From my perspective, this is a dumpster fire than can only go one of two ways: Michele can prove her critics wrong and the show will last. Or, it will all go down in flames and the reputation of this beloved Broadway musical will have a tarnish on it that will remain on it forever.

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I Love That Patti LuPone Called Out the Audience Member for Not Wearing a Mask

When Covid-19 came onto our shores more than two years ago, we all expected that it would be a short-lived experience. We would return to our normal lives within days or weeks as if nothing had happened.

As I write this post, it is May of 2022. Many who have done everything they could have done to not get sick have gotten sick. One million Americans have lost their lives to this virus.

During a talkback after a performance of the Broadway musical Company, star Patti LuPone yelled at audience members who were not wearing masks. The video of this incident quickly went viral.

I’m not a huge fan of hers, but props to LuPone for saying what we are all thinking. Anyone entering a Broadway theater as an audience member must be masked. As of now, this rule is in place until the end of the month.

What we have to remember as audience members is that while this is entertainment for us, this is a job. If there is another shutdown, no one involved in the production gets paid. Over the last two years, I have become acutely aware that while I had the luxury of working from home. There are still and were many people who did not have that option. Wearing the mask is about respect not just for ourselves, but for the people around us.

I know that we are all tired of masks and the hoops we have to jump through just to get out of the house. But until this disease is either conquered or toned down to the point of non-existence, this is what we have to do to stay alive.

Playing with Myself Book Review

Overnight success is a misnomer. What is really is years of hard work and a few moments of luck that open the door to seeing a dream becoming reality.

Randy Rainbow‘s new autobiography, Playing with Myself, was released last month. Born in the suburbs of Long Island, he spent his childhood in both New York and Florida. Rainbow was a chubby, introverted child who was exposed to classic Broadway musicals at an early age. After coming out in his late teens, he returned to New York City and dreamt of being on Broadway.

When that didn’t come to pass, Rainbow took the out-of-work actors’ career route: working both at a restaurant and as a receptionist. Using his MacBook and the news as his raw material, he started creating videos. His career took off at the start of the 2016 Presidential election and the announcement that you know who was the Republican nominee. From there, he became the satirist, comic, and musical genius that has kept us laughing and sane for the last six years.

I loved this book. Rainbow is candid, funny, and authentic. He is uniquely himself in a way that is both universal, endearing, and charming. There is something universal in his struggle that I think we can all learn from while getting a few giggles in the process. And if anyone is still asking, that is his real name.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Playing with Myself is available wherever books are sold.

Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda Book Review

Fans of Broadway musicals and students of Jewish history know the final scene of Fiddler on the Roof all too well. The Jewish residents of the fictional shtetl of Anatevka have been forced out of their homes by the local authorities. As they scatter to four winds, their fate is unknown. Presidential advisor Stephen Miller comes from this world. As do I and millions of Jews of Eastern European descent. But for any number of reasons, Miller has forgotten this history.

Hatemonger: Stephen Miller, Donald Trump, and the White Nationalist Agenda, written by journalist Jean Guerrero, was published in August. Miller grew up in a middle-class Jewish family in California. As a young man, his political beliefs began to swing to the extreme right, especially when it came to immigration. He was not shy about sharing his opinions, and like many with that perspective, couched his words in a way that would not immediately come off as racist.

After college, he went into politics, which ultimately led him to his current position working for you know who as a speechwriter and policymaker.

In my world, Miller would be described as a shanda (disgrace). As an American and a Jew, he has forgotten the traditions and the history that we carry with us. Without the United States, Miller’s family, like my family would have been part of the six million Jews who were murdered in the Holocaust.

There is nothing wrong with regulating who can come into this country. But as I see it, his policies are a bridge too far. There were moments while reading this book that I was both outraged and disgusted. While it was a good book, it was a smack in the face that hate, prejudice, and xenophobia is still alive and well in America in 2020.

I absolutely recommend it.

Flashback Friday-Grease: You’re the One That I Want! (2007)

Reality television has a way of worming itself into every niche of the television world that it can.

In 2007, it made it’s way to Broadway. Grease: You’re the One That I Want! aired for one season. The purpose of the program was to use the reality show format to cast another revival of Grease. Using the competition show as a backbone, the format was not unfamiliar: the contestants would perform every week. One by one they are eliminated until the winners are cast as Danny and Sandy.

At the time, it was good television. Looking back I can see that it was not that good. It was not completely lifeless, but it was one of the shows that was only destined to last one season.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Flashback Friday-Phantom Of The Opera (2004)

Phantom Of The Opera is a classic. Originally written as a novel by Gaston Leroux, the most famous adaptation is the Broadway musical. It opened on Broadway in 1986 and is still one of the most popular shows on the great white way.

In 2004, the stage production was adapted into a movie. Gerard Butler played the title character and Emmy Rossum played Christine. The supporting cast included Patrick Wilson (Raoul), Miranda Richardson (Madame Giry) and Minnie Driver (Carlotta).

Movie adaptations of Broadway musicals have to walk a fine line these days. In the 1950’s and 1960’s when musicals (especially ones based on Broadway shows) dominated the movie industry, a successful film was not that hard to come by. These days, the film has to appeal to the audience who loves the stage production, while also filling the seats with moviegoers who may not know the stage production.

The movie is simply okay in my eyes. Is it the best Broadway to big screen adaptation? No, but I’ve seen worse.

Do I recommend it? It depends, especially if you have not seen the show on stage.

 

Sense And Sensibility, The Musical

Today I had the pleasure of attending the spring meeting of JASNA‘s New York City chapter.

The subject was the musical adaptation of Sense And Sensibility.

While I do not see Broadway musicals very often (or any show on Broadway at all), I walked away from this meeting genuinely excited to see this production on a Broadway stage.

As with any adaptation, certain changes had to be made. But, based on the presentation by the creative team, I can confidently report that this musical will entertain the audience, regardless of if they have read the original novel. And if the result of seeing the show is to read Sense and Sensibility (in addition to the other novels), and join JASNA, then that is an end result that I happily look forward to.

Flashback Friday- From The Bright Lights Of Broadway To The Silver Screen-Chicago (2002) & Hairspray (2007)

Hollywood has a long tradition of making movies from Broadway musicals.  While movie musicals flourished during the golden age of movie making, the fervor for movie musicals has slowly dissipated over the past thirty years.  Hollywood has tried to resurrect the genre, but only a few of these movies have been successful.

In 2002, a movie was made based on the hit Broadway musical Chicago.

Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) are on death row, accused of murdering their significant others. Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) is the hot shot lawyer whose job it is to keep his clients famous and away from the  gallows.

I saw the musical on Broadway years ago. The movie is very true to the stage show. It is subversive, entertaining and a commentary on how fame and the justice system makes for strange bedfellows.

In 1988, indie filmmaker John Waters introduced the world to the movie Hairspray and a new leading lady: Tracy Turnblad.  Tracy is zaftig teenager in 1960’s Baltimore who just wants to dance on the local teenage dance show. But there are obstacles to her dream. In the early 2000’s, Hairspray was transferred to the Broadway stage and in 2007, it returned to silver screen, but as the musical.

Taking over from Ricki Lake in the original movie and Marissa Jaret Winokur on Broadway was Nikki Blonsky as Tracy. In the traditional John Waters style, John Travolta and Christopher Walken play Tracy’s parents, Edna and Wilbur.

While I did enjoy this movie, it is a very colorful, sort of family friendly version of the original movie. It looses some of the biting satire and subversive quality with the 2007 movie.  But, over all, it’s not bad.

I recommend Chicago, but maybe not Hairspray.

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