Imitation, we are told is the sincerest form of flattery. It can also reveal truths that we would rather not deal with.
For the last four years, actress Laura Benanti has been satirizing former First Lady Melania Trump on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Last Tuesday, Benanti stepped into the shoes of Mrs. Trump for the last time.
It’s as if they were saving the best for last. Using the opening number from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast as a baseline, the song speaks to how much we want her and her family out of the city.
I hate to say it, but there is one thing I will miss about you know who and his family. It is the comedy that is writing itself.
*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the television series Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the show.
There is something to be said about a well written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.
In this series of weekly blog posts, I will examine character using the characters from Law & Order: Special Victims Unit to explore how writers can create fully dimensional, human characters that audiences and readers can relate to.
In an ideal world, our past would stay in the past. We learn from our mistakes, but we don’t let those mistakes guide us in the present. But we don’t live in an ideal world. On Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, Detective Nick Amaro’s (Danny Pino) past is complicated, to say the least.
As a boy, he and his mother escaped to Miami to get away from his abusive father. Though they had a tentative reconciliation later in life, the relationship between father and son was never ideal. Neither was the marriage to his ex-wife, Maria (Laura Benanti). The marriage ultimately failed due to lack of communication and mistrust. After things cooled, Maria asked if Nick would follow her to California, for their daughter’s sake. But Nick declined. Outside of his marriage, Nick also has a son from an ex-girlfriend.
Nick’s past also has a way of intruding into his job. He was the first partner that Olivia Benson (Mariska Hargitay) had after the departure of her longtime partner, Elliot Stabler (Chris Meloni). The initial stages of their relationship were not easy, but they worked through it eventually.
At work, Nick had some uneven patches. He is known to act rashly, put his foot in his mouth and shoot first (and ask questions later). This lack of professionalism led to a brief demotion before returning to the squad. At the end of his narrative, he was studying for the Sergeant’s exam and hoping to move up the corporate ladder. But when he is told that his past is the barrier to the promotion, he has a breakdown which leads to his retirement and eventual move to California.
To sum it up: Our pasts do not dictate our present. But, if we are not careful to learn from our mistakes, we will continue to make them. Nick Amaro never quite learns from his mistakes. His continual mishaps forever alter his life, both in the personal sense and the professional sense.
As a character, the fans remember Nick because of these mistakes and his attempts to make up for those mistakes. It is that human characteristic that makes us love him, in spite of his flaws. That is why we remember Nick Amaro.
This past Thursday, NBC aired a live telecast of the Rodgers and Hammerstein classic musical The Sound Of Music.
Any national or Broadway revival of this musical will obviously be compared to the original production from the 1950’s with Mary Martin in the lead role and the iconic 1965 movie.
Carrie Underwood as Maria was an interesting choice by the producers. Yes, the woman can sing. One does not win American Idol and sell as many albums as she has without the ability to sing as well as she does. However, singing your own songs on a concert stage or acting in a music video which will ultimately be less than five minutes long is very different than playing one of the most iconic characters in musical theater. Did she know her lines? Yes. But there was little emotion behind those lines.
And now to Stephen Moyer. A great actor who is incredibly sexy on True Blood. And so wrong for Captain Von Trapp.
He is age appropriate and is as much as a name as Carrie Underwood. I don’t expect him to hit the high notes that Maria hits, but I found him to be stiff and his singing to be simply underwhelming. The Captain is emotionally closed off and stiff at the beginning of the story, but that is his character. Even when he began to open himself up to his children and become the father they needed, Moyer just wasn’t doing it for me. I found myself wishing that Christopher Plummer was still young enough to play this part again.
The upshot to this production was the decision to hire Broadway veterans to fill out the adult supporting roles. Audra McDonald (Mother Abbess), Laura Benanti (Elsa Schrader) and Christian Borle (Max Detweiler). Benati played Maria in the last revival, perhaps she might have imparted some advice to Underwood.
I applaud NBC for this undertaking, a live televised production of one of the most beloved musicals is not an easy thing to pull off. But next time, if there is a next time, I would recommend choose actors who actually have musical theater credentials and not just pop stars and TV actors who can sing.