Shakespeare in Love blows audiences away!

I had the opportunity to be in the first preview of this incredible show. For those that don’t know what that means, I was in the first audience they’d performed for. I am a part of the Alliance Theatre’s Teen Ensemble so I was giving the amazing opportunity to see this incredible show. I met the cast on their first day of rehearsals and I knew this was going to be incredible but WOW. I’m just going to get into it.

Guys this show pulled all the stops. Incredible set pieces, a bed, chandeliers I was in awe the entire time. The one thing that took me out was the pages that came out of the ceiling at the end. I audibly gasped and said “AAAAHHHHHH” I was not prepared. It gave all the life! they bring you into the world in a way that’s nothing short of legendary.

You want to hear something shocking? I didn’t see any mics on this cast… which means they weren’t wearing mics! What?! I love this! When you must “stage whisper” to be heard. I love that you must project because all too often artists don’t project and you miss the most crucial parts of the show.

These contemporary actors held up the dialects and cadence of a “classic” show. they spoke these word in accents like they’d been doing it their entire lives. I just knew most of them had Shakespearean training and I was right! It was incredible to watch them go through this show seemingly without a sweat. It showed me and my teen ensemble family what we could be.

As always, I have to shoutout this ensemble. They were on it! Every set change was perfect and down to a science. Their collective comedic timing was something I’d never seen before. I hadn’t laughed that hard at a show in a while. For them to take these words off the page and make them funny is a feat not many can achieve. There’s no need to breakdown this show character by character because it’s an ensemble show. They all bring something so significant to the show individually that they’re all the leads. The show is centered around Shakespeare but it’s a story of people. It is brilliantly told!

Go see this brilliant show directed by someone I had the privilege to work with this summer, Mr. Richard Garner. He’s incredible and so is this show! Check it out running at Oglethorpe University from now until September 24th!!

Woke Vs. Aware: Diversity in Theatre

In pop culture, today there’s a huge pressure on being woke. It somehow makes you wiser or better than someone because you’re woke but it doesn’t. Think of it like this, when I was younger my mom would always check on me to make sure I was awake in time for school. I would wake up but I wasn’t aware, I would be awake. I could brush my teeth, get ready for school, pack my bag and be out of the door. But I wasn’t aware, you could’ve been talking to me the entire time and that afternoon if you’d asked me what you said I wouldn’t be able to tell you. You can be woke and accomplish things but you can do so much more when you’re aware.

When you’re aware it’s a totally different situation. If I see a pen rolling off a table, I can catch it because I’m aware. If you’re aware, you can make rational decisions and make things happen. The point of the woke movement is to call issues out in hopes of fixing “it”. Whatever “it” may be, whether it’s discrimination against someone because of their race, sexuality, gender, religion, etc. You call it out so that it can be rectified.

But the problem is anyone can be woke but it takes more to be aware and willing to change your environment. One of the biggest issues actors of color face today lies in casting. Casting can already be problematic cause they’re looking for a type and that type usually includes race. It’s harder to separate one from the other. Which makes It harder to break that mold, because our types are usually what we see in pop culture which doesn’t accurately portray all people of color. From that stems the thought that for black women in musical theatre they all have to be big powerhouses with huge Cynthia Erivo and Jennifer Holliday voices. What about the classically trained soprano that’s told she can’t be casted as classic beauty because her color isn’t what you’d first think of when you hear the word, “Beautiful”.

There’s a very obvious lack of representation and casting of people of color in all facets of the industry because of these ideas that were given to us as children. But sometimes there’s someone that breaks that mold completely, people like Norm Lewis who go on to lead shows like, The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables, and even Sweeney Todd. These roles are traditionally played by white men but it took one person at the table just to say “Him. That’s our guy.”

Having more people like that will bring about a positive change in entertainment.Call it out! When you see something, address it, because that’s what art is. When we choose to ignore the issues  someone shows it to you in a beautiful way. People wanted to leave events like the Holocaust in the past and ignore it then shows like “Cabaret” and “The Sound of Music” came along and told these stories in a way you couldn’t ignore.Today, there’s a lack of diversity in theatre and shows like “Hamilton” and “Natasha Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812”. we choose to ignore the school to prison pipeline and there are brilliant shows like “Pipeline” that tell these stories in a digestible way to cause change.

There’s always a story to be told from the issues we ignore. But that work doesn’t get created without willing producers, without those “Gatekeepers” you can’t get anything done. We put so much weight on diversity but don’t acknowledge there has to be more pressure on diversity within the creative team. The people in “the room where it happens”, it’s important that the people with power are even more aware.

And most importantly it’s not fake awareness. It’s not “oh, there aren’t any people of color in this production. “Let’s sprinkle some throughout the ensemble, or maybe just have a couple in auditions just to say we saw them.”. Choose the best people period, no matter what color. Derrick Williams said on the “Broadway Cast” he auditioned for Kenickie in Grease and was told they wanted him but they couldn’t find a black Rizzo. Why did she have to be black? Why not just cast the person that would best tell the story?

When will our casts reflect our audiences? This, is why there must be an open mindedness and awareness “behind the table”. I love shows like Wicked and Hamilton where your race doesn’t matter it’s about the story. This is where I believe theatre is headed. If we all stop claiming to be woke and be aware I believe we can change theatre completely.

An American on Tour!

An American in paris on tour brings dance and a timeless love story to the Fox Theater. An American in Paris is based off the 1951 movie starring Gene Kelly. This show was my first dance heavy show and it was phenomenal. This show is absolute gold! It suspended my belief the entire time. I didn’t want to look away from the stage, I didn’t check my phone, I was zoned in and just in the moment. That is the key to a good show, suspend reality. That what your job is in theatre, hold attention, distract from the real world and take them on a journey. That’s what this show’s creators did beautifully.

It’s hard to go wrong with a show written by George and Ira Gershwin but they still took it to another level. Christopher Wheeldon is CRAZY, he not only directed this show but he choreographed it too. He directed and choreographed the original Broadway cast and even won a Tony for best choreography. It was incredible and I would’ve been shocked if he hadn’t won the Tony for this incredible show. He brought this show together in a way that I never have seen or would’ve thought to. The choreo/blocking blend was immaculate, it was a cohesive experience.

This time, instead of doing a breakdown on each character I just want to talk about this amazing cast first!! This is a dancer’s show, period. Even down to it being directed and choreographed by one of Ballet’s biggest choreographers. But it embraced the music and storytelling in it. It would’ve been easy to have your dancers then your singers that scenes are formed around. But they didn’t do that, they embraced the musical aspects of this show and really created something special.

Then the brilliant dancers in this cast were tasked with bringing it to life and they did just that. But one problem they ran into was actors who could tell this story. Finding actors/singers with that level of dance training is close to impossible. So what do you do? Take incredible dancers who’ve had decades of training and teach them how to sing and act. Dance is storytelling, acting and dance are just other forms of it. That’s what they did and Mcgee Maddox took on that job and killed it. These leads murdered in this show. It was a truly incredible show/experience and I hope more have the opportunity to see it!

How Leslie Odom Jr. changed my life

How I met Leslie Odom Jr.

If you know me or really have just read most of the stuff on this site you know that I love Hamilton. That OBC (original broadway cast) was absolutely insane! I’ve been obsessed with this show since I first heard it and from the first time I heard it I knew one day I was going to be Burr. I told myself that whatever it takes, I was going to be Burr. To this day that hasn’t changed.  As most of you know, Leslie Odom Jr. is the Original or OG Burr in Hamilton.

I was drawn to Leslie’s voice the minute I heard “Wait for it” there isn’t another voice like his. No one sounded like him, so immediately I became a fan of his. Then his Broadway.com vlogs came out and my life changed. He opened the door to show us behind the scenes of the biggest Broadway show in years. I loved watching this inside look into the monster that is Hamilton. it hit the switch for me and I wanted to not only work harder but smarter. He inspired me so much that I started going by #BabyBurr because i knew one day i’d follow in his footsteps.

Flash forward a year and Leslie has released two albums, a self-titled album and a Christmas album, “Simply Christmas”. These albums have been on repeat since I first heard them. I know every word to every song on these albums and they’re honestly some of my favorites now. Then one day, I got a notification that Leslie was going on tour and I lost it! I absolutely lost my mind, I immediately ran and told my mom, friends, family, strangers, anyone that was near me. I completely freaked out and I looked at tickets every day for months. I waited too long and the prices got super high, so I gave up on it and I was super bummed. While I was in rehearsal for a reading I got a text. It was a ticket confirmation for Leslie’s concert and I almost had a breakdown.

This was my dream! To see the man that changed my life and originated the role I DREAM to play. To be in the room where it happens (pun intended) was my dream and knowing that it would come true, was mind boggling.  I freaked out and said “I’m going to see Leslie Odom Jr.” at least 20 times a day for almost a month. Then I got an idea, I need mentors. What if I could get Leslie to be a mentor, having someone who knows the industry being able to help me navigate. So, I made a post on Instagram and then I started spamming his social media.

We all know the power of Social Media,  I decided to use it. I had my friends, family, and everyone on it. I had them retweeting, reblogging, liking, and sharing everything in an attempt to get in contact with Leslie. I didn’t care how but I was going to meet Leslie Odom Jr. Then the day came, I hadn’t seen any indication that Leslie had seen any of my posts. At this point I was flying by the seat of my pants (pun intended) so we were just going to hope for the best. Even if I didn’t meet him I’d still be able to be at this concert.

We got to the venue and I started shaking I hadn’t been that nervous or excited in a while. We walked in, I ran into some friends, then we went to our seats. Then he came out, “Wait for it” started playing then I died. My soul left my body and then I just hung out at the show. I knew every single word, of every single song, it was incredible.  The room where it happens was almost completely inhabited by theatre kids and it was awesome. Being around people like me, theatre kids, the most loving community on the planet, it was great.

After the show. we were walking out and I started to panic, I had to meet Leslie and I was going to. I sat there DM’ing his band trying to get someone to set it up. Then I hear “Line for autographs starts here.” Did he just say what I think he said? Line? Autorgraph? Here? It all hit me in waves. OH SNAP I’M GOING TO MEET LESLIE ODOM JR.!!!! It’s happening that’s all I could think of. While I was sitting in my shookness, my mom got in line because when I’m not thinking she is. (Thanks Ma!) Then about 20 min. later I hear “look, he’s over there!” I saw him but his band is just as important as he is so what I did was I took some pictures with the guys that really gave him a sound.

Then the moment came, “Hey man. You’re next up, you ready?”

“Nope. Not at all.”

Then it happened.

“Hi, I’m Marshall.”

“Leslie, it’s nice to meet you.”  

I like how he introduced himself like I didn’t know after seeing him in concert. It was quick but long enough for him to really have an impact on me. This man just did and hour and twenty- minute set, then came out and signed autographs for a theater full of people. I got him to sign my CD, then I told him that I honestly needed mentors and if he was willing to contact me and I gave him a card. I’ve never been more thankful for preparation, there’s such a huge power in just staying ready. It was over in the blink of an eye, to think that I shook hands and met him. A man that one day might just see me in the role he’d played years before. That’s absolutely incredible and that’s how #BabyBurr met #OGBurr

Serenbe Playhouse’s Cabaret (Review)

Serenbe Playhouse’s Cabaret sets the stage on FIRE.

Serenbe assembled an all-star cast for Cabaret! They called in the big guns this show and did not disappoint. They went all out in this production from the casting and choreography to the set and lights. It was truly the best production I’ve seen at Serenbe so far. I know that just like they did this year, next year they’re going to one up this show, so I’m ecstatic. They came with it all this year!

I don’t know how many other ways I can say how all out this show was. The set was massive and really transports you to the kit kat klub. The lighting for this show was spectacular though! That’s one thing I value about Serenbe, it’s an experience you won’t just get sitting inside of a theater. Here, the actors aren’t hundreds of feet away and the story just take place there. With Serenbe you’re a part of the show, you’re in the set, everything is happening around you in real time. It makes for a true and immersive experience that you can’t get anywhere else.

One HUGE thing I love about serenbe is that it’s so up close and personal with the cast that they’re almost forced to stay in character. There’s no breaking it’s almost like a giant improv and this ensemble was ON. It was a club, from just subtle flirting to them serving drinks at one point, it brought it all together. I loved watching this ensemble, I will say that there were two people that I couldn’t take my eyes off of Haley Platt and Terrence Smith. I’ve seen them in so many other shows that this difference in material drew me to them. I love seeing the versatility in actors throughout shows whether it’s subject matter or being a lead v. ensemble. I absolutely loved this ensemble. Also hats off to Serenbe’s 17/18 apprentice company for understudying these lead roles! That’s a huge thing to take on.

Before we get into this breakdown, I want to talk about this creative team. I have no idea how Brian Clowdus was both director and basically the star of the show. I honestly don’t know how this man is in the show and still had the ability to take a step back and look at this show like a director and being able to not go crazy! Bubba Carr’s choreography was some of the most precise and exact choreography I’ve seen. It’s so high energy and exact that I don’t know how they keep the pace. How to even build up your stamina enough to keep up with this brilliant choreo. Because as an audience member, it’s the some of the cleanest work I’ve seen on stage. The creative part of this show was clean! So, I want to shoutout the entire team responsible for this production.

Heidi Cline Mckerley as Fräulein Schneider: I just want to kick this off by saying her accent was on point! She brought a depth to a character that I’d honestly seen as not a throwaway character but a connecting character. I saw the character as someone who just connects the story for the big end of Act 1 reveal. But she gave this character meaning to me, it made sense why she was there. I think that’s honestly the biggest thing an actor can do.

Robert Wayne as Herr Schultz: I enjoyed the character he created. He brought in real life groundings that took him farther than the character Joe Masteroff wrote in the book. He was real, had real struggles, real joys, it really inspired me. You can tell his character study is intense. He took the character out of the book gave him some weight and told his story.

Deborah Bowman as Fräulein Kost: I also feel like this was another “throw away” character for me. But it seems like Deborah found that meaning. Also, can we talk about her comedic timing? I loved her portrayal. It honestly made me watch her more. I was definitely aware of when she was on stage and I loved watching her watch what was going on in scenes. It’s weird and like inception but watching her react to scenes. She was on and listening to her scene partners whether she had a line or not.

Edward McCreary as Ernst Ludwig: My hat is off to Edward, taking on this role is a huge leap. I’m not going to give away why this is such a huge thing. if you read Cabaret’s synopsis you’ll understand what I mean. But for him to take on such an ugly part of history head on, I can’t do anything but respect that. As actors, it’s our duty to not create perfect characters but bring reality to the stage (In most instances). He’s exceptional in this show and this role allows him to be versatile in his abilities.

Lee Osorio as Clifford “Cliff” Bradshaw: I think his casting was a smart choice by the creative team. He brought more to the role than I’d previously seen. There was more to Cliff, there was more to be uncovered as opposed to a younger version. He’s a grown man not a young man who doesn’t necessarily know what he’s doing. After seeing this character played both way I think I like the older more “experienced” approach. It resonated more to me this way.

Molly Tynes as Sally Bowles: I just want to start off by saying, this woman is a beast. The talent is unrivaled. That’s the only word that truly comes to mind. She left me dumbfounded, by the end of the show she had my jaw on the ground. She’s absolutely gorgeous, she commits to scenes, and her belt in incredible. On top of that she’s an aerialist specializing in silks, which they put to good use in this show. I honestly don’t know what this woman can’t do

Brian Clowdus as The Emcee: YALL! This man here is insane. Not only did he star in the show, he directed. He leaves it all on the stage! I really want to talk about how shook I was when he was onstage though. If you follow him on Instagram ( @brianclowdus on Instagram) you know his Instagram story is one of the funniest things on the planet. He has the thickest southern accent you’d ever heard but you can tell it’s backed up by an even bigger heart. His acting was incredible, that “light switch” moment is real. He just turned it on and suddenly he was the emcee. It was awesome to see, and that accent was ON POINT. He didn’t skip a beat and if he did he knew just how to pick it right back up and keep the show moving. He’s incredible and a true leader.

That’s all I have for Serenbe Playhouse’s Cabaret! Go see this show now running through Sept. 3. Don’t miss your opportunity to see this amazing production of a classic show!

My First stage reading experience

GUYS!  Recently I was blessed with the ability to participate in a stage reading of a show called “Mother of God”. It premiered at the Atlanta Musical Theatre Festival and it was such a cool experience. The show was written by Christian Magby and Christian Albright. I’ve known these two guys since my very first show at the age of 12 so i was obviously excited. These two guys together are an amazing team, this is a show that will one day be done everywhere.

I knew I had to be a part of this project somehow. So, when I saw Magby in Blackberry Daze” I asked him if I could shadow him and luckily he said “yes”. I was just there to shadow and watch but Christian offered to let me read stage directions, so I did!  I was so excited getting to watch the people I’ve seen in show after show on stage.

These are industry professionals who have worked by some of the best in the industry and are some of the best in the industry. The first rehearsal I came in and had the opportunity to watch Act 1 of the show and it was spectacular! This was the perfect casting, the voices in the cast were phenomenal. It was great to see working actors, people actively auditioning and chasing their dreams.

One part of this process that I enjoyed seeing was the rewrite/cut process. One day there was one script, the next there was a completely different draft, it was changing up until ShowTime. It was so cool to see how these actors not only took the rewrites but being a part of them too. Talking with Albright, the show’s book writer and working out scenes that seem natural with their characters. Watching them shape and mold this piece was probably my favorite part.

A cool thing they did was have an invited run of the show with their friends that are in other productions. On the day of the show we were at Out Front Theatre Company from 11 to roughly 11. It was a long day, but awesome! Getting to learn by watching these people uphold the most professional attitudes while working then on break they’re the coolest people you’d hope to meet.

So, on the last day I walked in thinking that I was just going to be back stage reading the stage direction but there was a change in plans. The last day, I was told I was going to be onstage and needed to at least match the cast. So, I texted my mom and she brought me clothes cause she’s the real MVP. But during the tech run a guy that I look up to more than he knows, Justen Ross. This guy is so talented that it’s dumb.

During sound check before the run I made a joke saying, “this is what happens when Magby won’t put you in the show”. And Justen gave me some advice that I’ll carry with me forever. No part in any show is small. Yes, you may be doing something like reading stage direction but think of what opportunities that could bring. You could steal the show just on reading, you’re the narrator and you’ve been given a huge chance. Don’t throw it away. You’re onstage, act like it.” You’re onstage act like it.

There are no small roles, every chance you get to be onstage is your chance to wear it out. Because you never know when someone’s there with your golden ticket. Show up and show out, always. Suddenly, a light switch came on and the words I spoke had come alive. It was a eureka moment that I needed. From there, I did the reading and  realized how blessed I was to be on stage with those incredible artists. There’s a lesson to be learned in every situation and there was huge one I learned in this experience. For that I am thankful.

Theatre Heroes series announcement!

This is super exciting and something I’ve always wanted to do! As summer began to end the CW dropped the most recent seasons of its DC comics based shows on Netflix. I’ve been a fan of Arrow, Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow since they all first aired, so of course I went immediately into binging. This has been my dream since I was a kid but then I took a step back and started looking at these casts. THEATRE PEOPLE!

These shows are almost completely comprised of theatre people. I first realized this with the Flash. I am unashamedly a gleek, for those of you that don’t know that means, I’m a fan of the Fox TV show “Glee”. If you’re like me when you saw Grant Gustin as Barry Allen you lost it because on Glee he was Sebastian Smythe. The big bad that everyone loved to hate was now one of the most lovable superheroes of all time? Okay, um wow.

That catapulted my love for these shows even more but on top of that more and more would come. Jesse L. Martin, the original Tom Collins in Rent, but known by most as Detective Joe West. Jeremy Jordan, the original Jack Kelly in newsies, but now known as Winn in Supergirl. the list goes on and on and no this won’t just be DC but Marvel too. So, I’m officially starting a theatre heroes series where we can basically appreciate the theatre kids that now battle bigger than life monsters across all screens. Whether it’s our phones, TVs, or movie screens. Whether it’s a vocal portrayal or physical, I’ll do my best to shout out all the theatre people that dawn the cape and tights! I might even throw in some voiceover heroes just to sweeten the deal.

Review: Blackberry Daze at the Horizon Theatre

I loved Blackberry Daze because it was one of the only times that I’ve seen a show with a cast made up of just people of color. Which I absolutely loved! Blackberry Daze was unapologetic in its telling of a story that sadly still takes place today. It was truthful and didn’t sugarcoat real issues.

The show talked about rape, the mistreatment of African American people in the military and the way we tend to neglect the needs of ourselves and others.It held up a mirror to show us “Hey! There has been a lot of absolutely amazing changes in America but there are still somethings that are the same.” This show takes place in 1919 after World War 1 and it was almost said the similarities in that time and now. I loved the storytelling of this story with the jazz, blues concepts used.

My absolute favorite thing about Blackberry Daze is that there are only 9 people in this cast, including the Herman Camm alt. and the show’s musicians. Speaking of the show’s musicians Ms. S. Renee Clark and Mr. Spencer Bean were playing those instruments! I loved the choice to add them into the show and when they opened Act 2 I loved every second of it.

Another huge thing I loved about this show was the intimacy. I love seeing actors walking throughout the audience and being so close to the cast that you could high five them. Being that close draws you in so much more instead of huge tours at 1,000 seat theaters. It’s what I value about local theater the most. We are here with you in the moment and while you may tell the same story after I’m gone it won’t be the same. It is what theatre is in its purest form, but let’s get into the breakdown.

TC Carson as Herman Camm: This performance was what I like to call “old school”. He allowed the character to live in every inch of every limb. It was total character embodiment, every wink, glance, nod it was all in place. Well thought out, every moment calculated but still given space to breathe and live presently in the moment. I loved it and it showed me what every performance it should be. I think physically this was the best performance I’ve ever seen.

Christy Clark as Ginny, Annie May, Hester, and Bessie: If you don’t go see this show for anything else go for her performance. This woman was everything! She was the audience’s go to for an “amen”. One thing I can say about this cast is that you can tell they were raised in church. She pulled each character from someone everyone In the audience knew. We were glued to every character, every riff, run, and whatever she had to throw at us. She came to slay and did just that.

Brittany Inge as Pearl: This lady has some serious pipes! After seeing her in this show I’m a fan and I will be seeing her in “Holler if ya hear me” with the True Colors Theatre Company. She’s a force to be reckoned with, this was the first time I’ve seen her perform and every time she was on stage I was drawn to her. Most importantly she played off her cast mates. She listened and that propelled her performance so much farther. https://www.brittanyinge.com/

Naomi Lavette as Mae Lou: This woman right here is a treasure. If you simply look at her resume on her website you’ll know that this woman is the real deal. This was the perfect role for her. This is a praying woman, she’s one of those people that you can feel a presence over. This plays right into her strengths almost as if it was written specifically for her. Needless to say her performance seemed natural which is the goal for any role you play. http://www.naomilavette.com/

Christian Magby as Willie/Simon:  I’ve known Christian since the first show I’ve ever did. I have always looked up to him and this guy gets better every time I see him. In this show he’s switching between two characters. He picks up between each role without missing a beat, which is super hard to do! This guy kills everything he’s in and this is no different. http://www.christianmagby.com/

Ayana Reed as Carrie: I would say this is a singin’ woman but Ms. Reed is a Sangin’ woman! She came through and put some vocals down that would wipe the eyebrows clean off your face. She was given a hard role with some rough material but she took it and molded it into a real person. Its raw, it’s bold, but most importantly it’s truthful. For her to simply be truthful in this role, she made the whole show for me. http://ayana.staxagency.com/

This is not a show to miss! It’s amazing and should be shared with as many people as possible. Go see Blackberry Daze at the Horizon Theatre playing now through August 27th! You can also buy the book that this show is based off of at https://www.amazon.com/Blackberry-Days-Summer-Novel-Presents/dp/B00B5591HC

 

 

 

Finding Neverland brings magic to ATL

 

Neverland comes to Atlanta and brings magic to the Fox Theatre

The Finding Neverland tour will go down in my memory as one of the best shows I’ve ever seen on tour! This show is already an extraordinarily well written show but this cast! I know I always say this but there’s something about this cast. This cast was almost magic (pun intended) on the stage. The energy in the room was electric!

The set was also phenomenal but my favorite part of the show started at “Circus of your mind” and ended with “stronger”. GUYS THIS PART OF THE SHOW IS CRAZY LIKE BILLY HARRIGAN TIGHE’s tone is incredible! My jaw was two rows down he sounded incredible. On top of that! His Captain Hook for the night, Rory Donovan, absolutely murdered the song, “Live by the Hook”.

Every riff, run, every option up in the song stronger was CRAZY. It was so good that it was stupid.  You know how some stuff you can’t just say it was good? it was so good that it was stupid. It’s dumb how amazing they were. Also before I jump in on my breakdown on each lead character, SHOUTOUT TO THE ENSEMBLE!!!! I have to really give a shoutout to this ensemble specifically. This ensemble is often forgotten by most theater goers but if you’ve read and watched my posts you know how much I appreciate them. This ensemble of Finding Neverland on tour had some crazy dance numbers! Now all ensembles do it, but these were INTENSE dance numbers and I heard every single word of every single song. Most shows have their dancer tracks (which is a specific ensemble track) and their singer tracks but if there were singer tracks in the show I missed it because they were flawless. They moved as one and that was great to see. Now to the breakdown.

So for this show instead of doing a review on each of them I’m going to talk about the brothers in one instead separating the actors.

The Llewelyn Davies Children: All 4 of them were beyond talented. Their comedic timing, acting, blocking it was all great! What I admire about these young actors is that they for the most part, cover another, if not all the brothers. Which means they know every line and blocking for 3 more characters. It’s hard enough to remember one characters blocking so for them to remember more is phenomenal.

Mary Barrie: This is a smaller role but y’all whenever Kristine Reese was on the stage you definitely knew!

Mrs. Du Maurier: I enjoyed how Karen Murphy played this character. I felt her approach and I saw my grandmother on stage. And I love when I have experiences like that when I see familiar personalities in theatre.

Thomas Miller as Elliot: killed this role. Like his comedic timing was killer even his physical acting was great which is really hard to do on stage when you can’t see yourself.

Rory Donovan as Charles Frohman/Captain Hook: came to put on a show kids like he was phenomenal!!!!!! His voice is stupid. I got to talk to him after the show and he said he didn’t start singing till his senior year in High School. WHAT?!? If you get the chance to see him you’ll know what I mean. What type of magical fermenting oyster was in his throats all those years to create the sounds he made? Cause I need one!

Christine Dwyer as Sylvia Llewelyn Davies : Soooo I think I’m in love with Christine Dwyer cause mama was singing! She did this one riff that had me DONE. It was dumb, then I think she even took the option up on another song! Y’all I love when actors make these types of choices!!

Billy Harrigan Tighe as J.M. Barrie: KIDS! BILLY HARRIGAN TIGHE WAS EXTRAORDINARY. He was so good it might have been supernatural. Like everything about his voice was amazing. His vocal placement was incredible and he gave an amazing performance as J.M. Barrie. This was truly perfect casting!

For more tour and casting information:
FindingNeverlandTheMusical.com
Facebook: facebook.com/FindingNeverlandTheMusical
Twiber: @NeverlandBway
Instagram: @FNLmusical

Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Aurora Theatre

 

The Hunchback of Notre Dame at the Aurora Theatre was MINDBLOWING! I’m not going to get into individual lead reviews yet but this entire cast is remarkable. My favorite part of this show had to be its set. The sets at the Aurora are always awesome whether it’s In the Heights or Split in Three.

The sets are immaculate and this is the best it’s gotten. IT WAS CRAZY! From the moving stairs like in Hamilton, the giant bells that came put even, and even the super creepy statues on both sides of the stage. I really loved how this show put the audience on the “One.”

We were all together rooting for Quasimodo to get away from Frollo and getting Esmerelda to just be there for him. I think with this show; the writing is good enough to pull you through. But with the right actors it has potential to be incredible, and that’s what it was.

This ensemble was full of familiar faces! I loved seeing people we’d seen in different shows all on stage in Hunchback. The choreography for this show was CRAZY! Ricardo Aponte didn’t come to play with the choreo and neither did this ensemble. It seemed like every step was in sync. Also shoutout to Ann Carol Pence and Justin Anderson on their amazing direction of this cast! They really put on the perfect show AND their casting choices! Kids I was QUAKING. I was not okay.

I don’t know what I could really say about this ensemble. They were incredible, I love writing reviews and not being able to say anything. I absolutely love casts that are so together or seem to be together. I also enjoy watching this cast on social media! They are hilarious!

Now to the breakdown.

Kevin Harry as Clopin Trouillefou:

the voice. Y’all I’m just going to list some of his credits (all professional credits) so you can understand the type of presence he is. Javert in Les Miserables, Sweeney Todd in Sweeney Todd the demon barber of fleet street, he’s done RENT, Ragtime and Rocky Horror show. All shows I want to do! His voice is CRAZY, Norm Lewis, Brian Stokes Mitchell level baritone.

Lowrey Brown as Captain Phoebus de Martin AND fight captain:

He killed in this show. I really liked his voice and his chemistry with Julissa Sabino who played Esmerelda. I love that he’s fight captain. Which takes legit training, it’s almost like being a dance captain. You must know every step on a specific spot because if you don’t someone can get seriously hurt. Which means he’s doing fight calls before every show. Making sure that everyone else is safe, on top of managing his own safety.

Julissa Sabino as Esmerelda AND dance captain:

I LOVE THIS. Most dance captains are in the ensemble but to take on that huge responsibility and a lead role is big. I don’t know what I can’t say about Julissa Sabino she gives life kids! Mama slays the children every time she opens her mouth. I love watching her perform and during this show she hits you in the feels, Every moment of it. I pray that one day I’ll get to work with her cause she has serious stage presence.

David De Vries as Dom Claude Frollo:

I enjoyed watching him in this show. The writers allowed him to age which is what I loved most about his performance. From the posture, gestures, voice, every tick it all seemed intentional and a part of the character. His credits are also insane! Including shows like Wicked (Tour, Chicago, LA), Beauty and the Beast (Broadway, Canada, and two national tours). Which means he’s had years to create and most importantly recreate the same characters which really is a next level skill.

*One thing I’ve noticed is that we view Broadway as the BIG one. Which it is in a lot of ways but the art is what matters. If Broadway is all you care about you won’t make it in theatre. The art must be feeding you and it doesn’t matter where you’re being fed if you’re fed. Seeing David in this shows that it doesn’t matter where you are as long as the art is good and feeding you.

Haden Rider as Quasimodo:

As soon as I posted on social media about going to see Hunchback of Notre Dame his students came out of nowhere. I didn’t realize I knew so many of them and they always said how humble and amazing he is. I can second that now. The role of Quasimodo is hard simply because of the character voice that most actors use and you also have to find a healthy mix between the two. When he sang it was an immediate switch he went from Gollum to the most heavenly voice ever! His show stopping moment that made me stop breathing for a minute was “Made of Stone”. Hunchback was written to be a show stopper and is truly a difficult song to sing but he tore it apart. Did I mention he had strep throat when I saw it? Yeah he sang on strep and sounded flawless. That’s INSANE.

 

If you want to see this amazing show you can go to http://www.auroratheatre.com/the-hunchback-of-notre-dame/ and buy your tickets! It runs from now until August 27th at the Aurora Theatre. This production was done in collaboration with Theatrical outfit so it will move downtown to the Rialto theater. Which gives you the oppurtunity to see it again September 7th to the 17th. Go see this beautiful show as soon as you can!