June 16 (Bloomberg) -- Frank Wedekind's groundbreaking play, "Spring Awakening,'' is now a fresh 115 years old. Duncan Sheik's rock-music adaptation, though a mere infant, wears less well.
This is a story of how procrustean morality, hidebound teachers and prudishly fumbling parents cause despair and death among betrayed youth in puberty. Though the plot remains largely the same, retaining period and place, it clashes with the standing or hand-held mikes.
The sundry diminishments and a new ending that contradicts the play's thrust are, I suppose, meant to be compensated for by the songs. Steven Sater's lyrics, however, are pretentiously pseudopoetic when, despite miking, they can be heard at all.
Although I have scant use for rock music, and less when it's in the theater, Sheik seems to have done well by those who care for it. There is even one number, "There Once Was a Pirate,'' which, regardless of irrelevance to the plot, is lovely by any standards.
With rather too minimal scenery and questionable disco lighting, the show nevertheless gets good direction from Michael Mayer, though Bill T. Jones's grotesque choreography is hardly to everyone's taste. The enactments of misguided adults and confused juveniles are commendable, even if having all grownups played by two actors smacks of contrivance. Outstanding is the leading youth, splendidly sung and acted by Jonathan Groff.
If anything surprised us about this review, it was how tame it was in its distaste for the show. Simon knows his theater history and his languages, and we did not expect him to be amused by Duncan Sheik and Steven Sater's playful updating of Frank Wedekind's German play.
Nonetheless, Spring Awakening was a modest hit off-Broadway due to other more positive reviews. The producers ambitiously decided to move it from off-Broadway to Broadway, where it's technically cheaper to produce a show because of the larger amount of seats available for each performance. The Broadway production was re-reviewed by all the major critics who generally loved it more than they did the first time. We were looking forward to seeing John Simon's review most of all as the production, in its move uptown, cut the one song Simon seemed to kind of enjoy.full second review—were not going to post it in its entirety because it's too long. We will, however, post relevant excerpts:
Shows can be innovative without being good or vice versa. But when "Spring Awakening,'' a new musical, is both, it is grounds for cheering. Steven Sater, librettist and lyricist, and Duncan Sheik, a pop star and serious composer, began turning it into a musical in 1999. After many workshops, concert performances and delays, "Spring Awakening'' opened last summer at the Atlantic Theater Company and was an instant success.
But what is gained is Sheik's propulsive alternative rock score, which knows when to soften for romantic or wistful numbers. Cannily orchestrated by Sheik, with adroit vocal and additional arrangements by AnnMarie Milazzo and Simon Hale, it achieves a seductive sound that most recent Broadway musicals have lacked.
Sater's verses are nothing if not lyrical, sometimes even a bit too sophisticated for the kids from whom they issue. Wendla's "Oh how we/ Fall in silence from the sky/ And whisper some silver reply,'' and Melchior's response, "Window by window/ You try and look into/ This brave new you that you are'' are cases in point.
There is inventiveness in the alternating use of body, handheld and standing mikes, in the way disparate actions are shown contiguously or in bold crosscutting. Bill T. Jones's youthfully evocative choreography -- it is unlike the dancing anywhere else on Broadway -- is idiosyncratic yet mesmerizing and deserves its own accolades for advancing the form. Kevin Adams's lighting, enhanced by a good deal of neon is, well, electrifying, and Susan Hilferty's period costumes are scrupulously appropriate. Christine Jones's set largely replicates the look of the Atlantic's theater, an intimate desanctified church, which seems entirely apt given the importance of religiosity, imposed and rejected, in the play.
Yeah, that last bit's our favorite. The choreography has gone from "grotesque" to "idiosyncratic yet mesmerizing." The "questionable disco lighting" is now "electrifying," and the "rather too minimal set" in a small off-Broadway house is now "entirely apt" in a huge Broadway one.
Hey, whatever, right? People change their minds. Absolutely. And we encourage them to do so. And we're thrilled that John Simon RILLY liked the musical the second time. But, for those of you who know Simon's record, he is an unsympathetic brute. He has laughed off Stoppard and Kushner, trashed Albee and dismissed Miller. This change of heart over a musical we thought he'd crush between his pinky and ring finger is significant because it either shows he's getting kinder with age, or, more likely, he's going senile. Whichever the case may be, these reviews, written only several months apart, make for some clearly hi-larious comparing and contrasting.
Most of all, go see Spring Awakening. The score is the best theater score written so far this decade, and everything else about it, especially the idiosyncratic yet mesmerizing choreography, is unforgettable. And, no, in case you're worried, we are not Duncan Sheik fans. But you don't need to be to enjoy this show. And if you don't like it the first time, maybe you will the second, you old coot...
Need a hint? OK...
If you need us, we'll be at the Betty Ford Clinic. At the bar.
We wish you a merry Christmas.
We wish you a merry Christmas.
And, unless we feel like posting next week, which we may,
a happy new year.
Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy, and, if you live in Denver, spread Christmas goodwill and pay a poor person to shovel for you.
Which song is not only the top-selling Christmas song of all time but is also the top-selling single of all time, according to the 2007 Guinness Book of World Records?
A.) "White Christmas" - Bing Crosby
B.) "All I Want for Christmas Is You" - Mariah Carey
C.) "The Chipmunk Song" - The Chipmunks
D.) "Happy Christmas (War Is Over)" - John Lennon
Well? What do you say? This quiz only has one question, so if you mess up, you fail completely. But if you're reading this site, you should be used to that by now.
Oh! Here's the answer, dudes.
Oh, and we also found the most perfect Christmas tree ornament EVAH.
We did a lot of thinking this weekend about what to get all of you, but we realized we really don't have much time to shop for two extra gifts. And, we have a holiday party to prepare for! So, as our holiday gift to you, this week all our posts will be holiday-themed! Like this one...
So, sit back, have some Jack and nog, open that enormous tin of popcorn your aunt sent you and enjoy!
Series, Drama: "24," Fox; "Big Love," HBO; "Grey's Anatomy," ABC; "Heroes," NBC; "Lost," ABC
Big Love is really the only surprise here. Oh, and that fucking Battlestar Galactica, the best show on television, wasn't nominated yet again. That's another surprise.
Actress, Drama: Patricia Arquette, "Medium"; Edie Falco, "The Sopranos"; Evangeline Lilly, "Lost"; Ellen Pompeo, "Grey's Anatomy"; Kyra Sedgwick, "The Closer"
Evangeline Lilly is the first person in Golden Globe history to get a nomination based solely on getting wet.
Actor, Drama: Patrick Dempsey, "Grey's Anatomy"; Michael C. Hall, "Dexter"; Hugh Laurie, "House"; Bill Paxton, "Big Love"; Kiefer Sutherland, "24"
Series, Musical or Comedy: "Desperate Housewives," ABC; "Entourage," HBO; "The Office," NBC; "Ugly Betty," ABC; "Weeds," Showtime
Actress, Musical or Comedy: Marcia Cross, "Desperate Housewives"; America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty"; Felicity Huffman, "Desperate Housewives"; Julia Louis-Dreyfus, "The New Adventures of Old Christine"; Mary-Louise Parker, "Weeds"
Actor, Musical or Comedy: Alec Baldwin, "30 Rock"; Zach Braff, "Scrubs"; Steve Carrell, "The Office"; Jason Lee, "My Name is Earl"; Tony Shalhoub, "Monk"
Huzzah for Baldwin. Sheer brilliance.
Miniseries or movie: "Bleak House," PBS; "Broken Trail," AMC; "Elizabeth I," HBO; "Mrs. Harris," HBO; "Prime Suspect: The Final Act," PBS
Actress, Miniseries or Movie: Gillian Anderson, "Bleak House"; Annette Bening, "Mrs. Harris"; Helen Mirren, "Elizabeth I"; Helen Mirren, "Prime Suspect: The Final Act"; Sophie Okonedo, "Tsunami, The Aftermath"
We're so glad Tsunami, the Aftermath is finally getting some recognition.
Actor, Miniseries or Movie: Andre Braugher, "Thief"; Robert Duvall, "Broken Trail"; Michael Ealy, "Sleeper Cell: American Terror"; Chiwetel Ejiofor, "Tsunami, The Aftermath"; Ben Kingsley, "Mrs. Harris"; Bill Nighy, "Gideon's Daughter"; Matthew Perry, "The Ron Clark Story"
Dench is nominated again!!! (See previous post for marginally entertaining explanation.)
Supporting Actress, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Emily Blunt, "Gideon's Daughter"; Toni Collette, "Tsunami, The Aftermath"; Katherine Heigl, "Grey's Anatomy"; Sarah Paulson, "Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip"; Elizabeth Perkins, "Weeds"
Are you fucking kidding us with the Paulson??? Oh. Collette's there. Everything's OK. (See previous post for marginally entertaining explanation.)
Supporting Actor, Series, Miniseries or Movie: Thomas Haden Church, "Broken Trail"; Jeremy Irons, "Elizabeth I"; Justin Kirk, "Weeds"; Masi Oka, "Heroes"; Jeremy Piven, "Entourage"
And, unsurprisingly, this list is done in by Piven.
See you at the Globes!
Best Motion Picture
We are proud to say we haven't seen any of these, though we actually do want to see The Queen. Well, we loves some Mirren!
Best Motion Picture -- Musical or Comedy
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
The Devil Wears Prada
Little Miss Sunshine
Thank You For Smoking
We are proud to say we haven't seen any of these, either.
Clint Eastwood - Flags of Our Fathers
Clint Eastwood - Letters from Iwo Jima
Stephen Frears - The Queen
Alejandro González Iñárritu - Babel
Martin Scorsese - The Departed
Apparently Clint Eastwood is so powerful, he's become two people. Scorsese always gets shown up. Poor thing.
Leonardo DiCaprio - Blood Diamond
Leonardo DiCaprio - The Departed
Peter O'Toole - Venus
Will Smith - The Pursuit of Happyness
Forest Whitaker - The Last King of Scotland
Well, at least Scorsese has the power to make someone else two people. That's cool.
Penelope Cruz - Volver
Judi Dench - Notes on a Scandal
Maggie Gyllenhaal - Sherrybaby
Helen Mirren - The Queen
Kate Winslet - Little Children
Can we just give Judi D. a piece of glowing gold that stands for every award ever to be given?
Best Actor -- Musical or Comedy
Sacha Baron Cohen - Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan
Johnny Depp - Pirates of the Caribbean 2
Aaron Eckhart - Thank You For Smoking
Chiwetel Ejiofor - Kinky Boots
Will Ferrell - Stranger Than Fiction
Hmmm. Oh! We get it. If you unscramble "Chiwetel Ejiofor," you get "Judi Dench." Makes sense. But good for Penelope. May she never make another English-speaking movie again.
Best Actress -- Musical or Comedy
Annette Bening - Running with Scissors
Toni Collette - Little Miss Sunshine
Beyonce Knowles - Dreamgirls
Meryl Streep - The Devil Wears Prada
Renee Zellweger - Miss Potter
Be-who? Be-what? Be-really? Fortunately, Toni Collette's there, which always makes everything OK.
Best Supporting Actor
Ben Affleck - Hollywoodland
Eddie Murphy - Dreamgirls
Jack Nicholson - The Departed
Brad Pitt - Babel
Mark Wahlberg - The Departed
Eh. We'd be happier for Murphy if he wasn't prone to beating up trannies.
Best Supporting Actress
Jennifer Hudson- Dreamgirls
Adriana Barraza - Babel
Cate Blanchett - Notes on a Scandal
Emily Blunt - The Devil Wears Prada
Kikuchi Rinko - Babel
Blanchett for that piece of crap?!? Has anyone in the Hollywood Foreign Press actually seen that movie? We thought not.
Notes on a Scandal
Again, we promise you no one in the HFP saw Notes on a Scandal. Or at least got the English translation.
Best Animated Feature
We hate cartoons. HATE.
Best Foreign Language Film
Letters from Iwo Jima
The Lives of Others
Can everyone please refer to Apocalypto as "Apocalypso" from now on? No specific reason. It's just funnier. Thanx.
Best Original Score
The Painted Veil
The Da Vinci Code
Score for the score for The Fountain. It's beautiful. You should illegally download it immediately.
Best Original Song
Listen - Dreamgirls
Never Gonna Break My Faith - The Pursuit of Happyness
Bobby - Happy Feet
And there they are. The Golden Globe film nominations. Special kudos to Emilio Estevez for having a foreign-sounding name to trick the HFP into nominating the piece of crap we've unequivocally heard is Bobby. Again, we were fortunate enough not to have actually seen it.
We'll try to get the TV noms to you momentarily. Unless we're distracted. Fingers crossed...
First of all, it's written by this guy.
Second of all, this: "Watch what you drink. Keep reminding yourself that this is a business event first and a party second. I drink Vodka Tonics, but at the holiday party, I have them without the vodka. No one knows but me. After all, there's plenty of time to drink after the party."
That's the most stupidest thing we've ever heard. The boss isn't tasting your drink at the holiday party; he's watching how much you drink. So, you might as well get liquored up if you're gonna hold something clear and fizzy in your hand all night. Duh. Oh, and we really don't trust someone talking to us about alcohol who doesn't know that "vodka tonic" is not a proper noun.
Third of all, we ADORE this helpful tip: "If you drive drunk, you may kill yourself or someone else."
Which really nicely sums up their links for suggested office holiday party-etiquette reading:
Happy office holidays, people!
Rather than write some sentimental claptrap about how much this means to us, we'll just wish ourselves a happy birthday and urge you not to click here to read the latest Coffee Talk Companion. It's our birthday gift to you.
What better way to celebrate the holidays than by hearing some original queer folk/pop music? Showtime is 9.30 p.m. The postcard below says 9 p.m. just to get your slow asses there by 9.30. Oh, and the lesbian violinist isn't performing, so the show's 100% lesbian-free. PHEW!
Hope to see you there with jingle bells on! Have a good weekend, you.
And we are telling you Jennifer Hudson loves the gays.
Maybe, just maybe...she is chaaaaaaaanging.
And thus ends our Dreamgirls-quoting, Jennifer Hudson-may-or-may-not-like-gay-people post. As you were.
Oh, and if you see Whelchel, tell her to get her lazy born-again ass to work. There's only so much Thanksgiving at Mammoth Mountain that we can take.
Oh oh! And hearty congratulations to Caridee. Well, you know. Congratulations for "winning" America's Next Top Model. Though we probably should offer heartier congratulations to Melrose and that other girl for not winning. Well, actually, we should probably offer heartiest congratulations to the twins for not making it to the final episode. One seems to have the best chance of becoming somewhat semi-famous by being eliminated just before the final episode. So, congratulations, Jaeda!
Oh oh oh! This just in! Here's what we really want for the holidays (too hot for work!)!
Now, we are in an awkward position here. We have two choices. We can tell you the film was superb with the hope that we will be invited to more screenings. Or we can tell you the film was disappointing with the hope that honesty is really the best policy. The thing is, we feel duty-bound to say something about the film as we understand that when marginal blogger gets invited to free movie, marginal blogger gives movie free publicity. Which is totally cool.
We'll go ahead and say that Judi Dench gives a marvelous performance as a lonely spinster teacher who manipulates a younger teacher, Cate Blanchett, into becoming her very best friend. And most everything that comes out of her mouth is certain to be quoted by gay men for at least a few hours.
The rest of the film, unfortunately, is, er, not as marvelous. Had we paid to see it, we might say something like "Philip Glass not only phones the score in, as per usual, but phones it in WITH THE VOLUME TURNED ALL THE WAY UP" or "It's difficult to care for two pathetic characters to begin with, but even more so when neither has been properly developed." But we won't. We'll just urge you to see this film for Judi Dench's wonderful performance. And hope that maybe, just maybe, we'll be invited to see another movie that we can actually talk about, if you know what we mean.
So, now you know. And that's what World AIDS Day is all about. Commerce. Which means we really should be able to score a Wii at this point. Is there an AIDS Wii 'cause it's fine if it's red. We'll take it. 'Cause that's what World AIDS Day is all about. Us.
Speaking of holidays, we just had to drop in to wish you a very...
HAPPY WORLD AIDS DAY!
Hey, AIDS, don't fret that you only have a day. You have to pretty much be a sex or race to get a month. You can't even really be a planet and get much more than a day. It's OK. Maybe if you stick around for another 30 years (fingers crossed!), you'll get a week! Come to think of it, to help out on this momentous day devoted to a deadly disease that probably would have only merited a measly hour or two if condoms were available in places like, say, schools and bus stations, we expect all our readers to spread the joy of AIDS to each other and to everyone all over the world. Give a teacher AIDS. Give a loved one AIDS. Give your mom AIDS. Let's make this disease important enough to get it the occasion it deserves! And, maybe, if we all work quickly enough, we can bypass the week and go straight to National AIDS Month. Or even International AIDS Year. The possibilities are endless, really! So, get on it (pun most assuredly intended)!
While you're doing that, we'll be shopping with Bono for AIDS clothes at the GAP. Hey, it may only warrant a day right now, but at least it's CHIC, CHIC, CHIC!