Beat JENeration #034: Six: The Musical is making it possible for me to survive this week

Beat JENeration #034: Six: The Musical is making it possible for me to survive this week

Remember all the feels the Hamilton soundtrack gave you in the first year — before it blew up into something so much bigger than itself that we all forgot how truly revolutionary it actually was? Those were good times for us history-loving musical theatre nerds and there was hope that our time had come.

Broadway, however, decided to focus on high school angst and misery. Dear Evan Hansen, Be More Chill, Jagged Little Pill, Mean Girls — the Apple Music play counts do not lie, I enthusiastically love them all, but it wasn’t the trend I’d wanted. Yes, I know a well-researched and written musical masterpiece takes time, but couldn’t they at least throw us a revival of Bloody, Bloody Andrew Jackson? 

Thankfully, there’s a British invasion setting things right. Six: The Musical has brought all the feels of Hamilton on first 100 listens AND is as equally woke. Actually, it makes Hamilton feel almost dated for they way the Schuyler sisters are pitted against one another over some arrogant, wordy, cheating dude with a ponytail.

Henry VIII did all his wives wrong, and so they formed a girl group to publicly compare notes. Six is powered by a diverse cast boldly declaring their very modern #MeToo sentiments for the whole show. 

In pre-Gilead times like these, I need some chick empowerment. (And that’s all I can say on the subject right now, lest I cry and turn this into a darker, very different column).  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #034: Six: The Musical is making it possible for me to survive this week”

Beat JENeration #014: The Greatest Showman Reimagined

Beat JENeration #014: The Greatest Showman Reimagined

The world would be a better place if we would all move our lives’ plot points along by spontaneously breaking out into song and dance. And I think the swelling popularity of musicals in the last five or so years is pushing us in the right direction.

While one must give credit to Hamilton for the recent cross-over popularity in musical theatre, it’s hard for me to gauge actually how much musicals have really has penetrated the general population. You see, in my world, musical theatre has always been a constant. My day job is in the performing arts, I have two high school triple-threats living in my home, and I was raised by two Broadway-loving New Yorkers. Though that really means nothing because in the grand scheme of things the Annie Original Broadway Cast album came out when I was at a very impressionable elementary school age and THAT alone sealed my fate.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #014: The Greatest Showman Reimagined”

Beat JENeration #009: Ain’t Too Proud To Beg…you to not be rude.

Beat JENeration #009: Ain’t Too Proud To Beg…you to not be rude.

Last weekend I attended Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations at the Ahmanson Theatre. It was everything theatre is supposed to be — energetic, emotional, entertaining, and engaging.

I have some complicated feelings about jukebox musicals. In theory, I don’t like them, but then again, you’d be hard pressed to get me say a bad word to say about Xanadu, Beautiful, Rock of Ages, or Jagged Little Pill. I was pretty sure I’d be safe with The Temptations though. You can’t screw up the songs and the dance moves would have to be sweet. What I was pleasantly surprised by, however, was the book, Drugs, crazy egos, multiple band member change-outs, and broken hearts bring the DRAMA. And the acting was flawless: Ephraim Sykes, Derrick Baskin, Jawan M. Jackson, Nasia Thomas, Jeremy Pope, James Harkness — wowza.

Ain’t Too Proud will be playing in Los Angeles through the end of September, but then it’s off to Broadway where I’m sure it will serve director Des McAnuff in much the same way as Jersey Boys did.  But this is all I have to say about this musical.

Instead I’m putting on my best pissed-off mom voice and giving a lecture.  Continue reading “Beat JENeration #009: Ain’t Too Proud To Beg…you to not be rude.”

Beat JENeration #007: So, there’s this thing called Australian Pink Floyd

Beat JENeration #007: So, there’s this thing called Australian Pink Floyd

Last night I ventured out to Segerstrom Hall in Costa Mesa. This is where all the Broadway tours stop in Orange County. I recently saw Liza Minelli here. Eddie Izzard. Misty Copeland dances on this stage for American Ballet Theatre often. Plush red velvety seats for almost 3000 asses, it’s civilized for sure — not that it stops men from attending in shorts and flip flops most nights. But last night was, um, special, different, odd. Last night perplexed me, quite frankly, and I think I need you all to help me figure it out.

There’s this thing called Australian Pink FloydI love pretty much all things Australian. I’ve been there and the place holds up to its hype. Not only do they have koalas, kangaroos, Olivia Newton-John, Hugh Jackman, and Paul Kelly (essentially their Bob Dylan, but he can actually sing well), but they are home to the best dessert ever, the Lambington,  So, I’m always cool with Aussies as a general rule. 

Pink Floyd, on the other hand, hmmm… I went to a typical American high school and then matriculated to a party university. The Wall was rented many a night from Tower’s cult movies section (a young Bob Geldof, eye brows or no, was intriguing) and I owned Dark Side of the Moon to cue up with Wizard of Oz. But, as I wasn’t a stoner myself, I think I missed a lot of the finer points of Pink Floyd aside from the entry level hits – “Comfortably Numb,” “Wish You Were Here,” and…well, actually, if I’m being totally honest I just know The Wall and Dark Side of the Moon, “Wish You Were Here,” and I thought I knew “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” but only the radio cut, which I’ll get to later. Fake fan…I’ll accept that, though I would never use the word fan. I did, however, see Pink Floyd live once at Jack Murphy Stadium. This guy, Craig, who I knew from the BBS Board, Anarchy X gave me a ticket — probably because he felt bad for telling mutual friends he slept with me, when he most certainly did not — and well, he thought I was a fan, but he, as I already established, had a problem with the truth. Point? Pink Floyd’s okay by me.   Continue reading “Beat JENeration #007: So, there’s this thing called Australian Pink Floyd”

Beat JENeration #006: Neil Simon

Beat JENeration #006: Neil Simon

Being raised in Southern California by New Yorkers used to make me feel like a bit of an immigrant at times. While both my parents had been third-generation Americans themselves, there was still a lingering feeling of Old World from their Italian & Croatian roots for sure, but what seemed to make our family feel like “the other” had more to do with their East Coastness. The accents, the food, the urban neurosis, the constant bi-polar alternating of hyperbolic praise and grumbling pessimism, and the way they were just loud — OMG, at a time in life where you just want to blend in and disappear it was embarrassing. I cringe to admit it now, but I was jealous of all the vanilla families that looked like the ones on TV.   Continue reading “Beat JENeration #006: Neil Simon”