Fanboys on Broadway? It's not as wrong as you might think. Warner Brothers
has been trying to cook up a musical version of Batman for the past three
years. Webmaster Andrew Preston couldn't wait that long, plus he really
doesn't like Batman, and as he stumbled around New York City looking for the
peep shows, he ended up in real live theaters. What he found may surprise
you, and make you demand that your local community theater start doing some
shows that don't suck.

Urinetown - The Musical
"You've got a sweet head Bobby Strong…"

Urinetown is a clever, energetic, Broadway production wrapped around mankind's most basic of bodily functions. Set in a "classic " town near you, Urinetown tells the cliched story of the common people being oppressed by a major corporation. In this case, the drought has caused water to become so precious that every man, woman, and child must pay a fee to "take care of their business." Public urination is punishable by exile to the infamous Urinetown. Add a classic "boy meets girl" story along with satirical singing and dancing numbers and you have a stage show that is sure to be enjoyed by any semi-seasoned theatergoer with a moderate sense of humor. The show is open about its parody, including a large discussion on exposition in general, and a few jabs at the show's own title. The music is wonderful. It comes off as being very fresh while still maintaining the classic American musical feel.

Highlights for me would be the 'Let's snuff the girl' piece that is a definite rip of West Side Story's "Cool" and "Don't be the Bunny," a funny tune about being the hunter, rather than the hunted.

The most enjoyable thing overall was the intensity and energy level of the cast. As is needed in satire, the cast gave 150% to ensure that the silly songs and wacky dance moves were felt in the back row. The commitment level of each performer made this show so much fun to watch.

If you are in New York for a few nights and you have seen a handful of Broadway shows before, I consider Urinetown - The Musical a must see. It may be a bit much for the theatre newbie, and anyone who doesn't appreciate the fun in rhyming the words "urination" and "defecation" should probably avoid it as well.

It opens again at the St. James Theater in London in 2014. Check out their web site here.

Eat the Runt
It's your turn to be the casting director.

Eat the Runt features a 'normal' comedy script with one slightly avant-garde twist: at the beginning of each performance the audience chooses which actors will play each role. With a number keypad attached to each seat, the audience witnesses a one-sentence audition from each actor. The audience then votes on whom they wish to play that particular role. Chosen actors leave the stage to prepare, and the remaining performers compete for the next part.

Being a first-timer, I had no understanding of the roles I was voting upon. So after the story started to unfold, I notice I could have made more "interesting" casting choices.

You follow the main character through a job interview at a major New York art museum. The museum employees have their fair share of quirks and office politics. A major twist at the end of Act 1 leaves you knowing you will certainly enjoy Act 2.

The best part of Eat the Runt is thinking of the different casting possibilities for each scene. Although the description of the script makes claims that it is genderless and raceless, there are major discussions of Affirmative Action and several love interests.

The show that I witnessed featured a lesbian love triangle with a bi-sexual center (you figure it out), and a scene where an obviously Caucasian actor claiming that an obviously African American actress was not black. Keep the dialogue the same and swap in some males or change the races entirely and the scenes would have a totally different dynamic. Those possibilities are what make Eat the Runt worth seeing…possibly several times.

Unfortunately, I don't think that your average theatergoer will find it as interesting as I did. It seems to be a show by thespians for thespians. If you are in New York for several days and you need a non-musical to change it up a bit, Eat the Runt would be a good choice.

The show website is here.

Making band camp cool.

Ok. Take the most kick-ass college marching band, get rid of the lame outfits, put them on a Broadway stage with some awesome lighting and decent choreography and you get BLAST.

BLAST is a musical performance group made up of three performing sections--the brass, percussion and visual ensembles. There is no dialogue or storyline, just carefully executed musical pieces. The visual ensemble consists of dancing and spinning and tossing unusual implements such as flags, rifles, and oh yes, bizarre green blades of something.

By far the highlight of the show was the "drum-off" percussion showcase. Two different percussionists pull out all the stops by performing flurries of fast stick work while throwing in some fancy tricks. One of the guys somehow managed to slide the drumstick up and down his arm while sill maintaining a lightning fast drum roll. The "drum" off moves on to a line of 15 snare players all playing with glow-in-the-dark sticks while striking each other's snares. The section ends when several tom-tom kits lower from the ceiling and the whole percussion bangs them into oblivion.

Another noteworthy piece features the didgeridoo. For those of you who don't know, the didgeridoo is a hollow-stick like instrument that is commonly associated with Australia. If you have ever seen a Foster's beer commercial, you have heard the didgeridoo. The entire cast enters with didgeridoos and runs into the audience for a little in your face didgeridoo action. I swear the guy on the balcony above my seat was trying to drip spit onto me with his didgeridoo. If you haven't picked up on it yet, the word "didgeridoo" is fun to both type and say.

So here's the deal with BLAST: If you are into, or actually in, a marching band or college band, you will think BLAST is the coolest thing ever. If you frequent Broadway often, you will enjoy the odd change of pace. If you are a casual theatregoer, you will appreciate BLAST for what it is, but wish you spent your Broadway dollars on something a little more "traditional." We bought tickets at a 50% discount, which made the show worth the money. If I had paid full price, I may have felt a bit ripped off.

Kiss Me Kate
We needed one classic.

Kiss Me, Kate is based loosely on Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew. It tells the story of the relationship between an egotistical actor and his leading lady, set against a tumultuous tryout of a musical-within-the-musical that is based on The Taming of the Shrew

It's Kiss Me Kate on Broadway, what can I say. It was colorful, cheesy, and entertaining. I can say with all honesty that I had a great time.

Is the show groundbreaking? Of course not. Is the Kiss Me Kate T-Shirt going to identify a new crop of high-school drama geeks? Probably not. Is it an excellent execution of a classic musical comedy? Hella-ass yes.

This is the perfect show to see if you are new to musical theatre and you want to see something that is definitely "old school Broadway" in style. If you have to take your mother to a Broadway show, take her to see Kiss Me Kate.

The Kiss Me Kate website is here.

Andrew Preston

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