Pitch Perfect 2

Entertainment Review, movie review

pitch-perfect-2

I’m going to make this short and sweet, because I don’t want to ruin this movie for those who haven’t seen it, but if you loved the original, as I did, then you should definitely go see the sequel.

Like all sequels, it doesn’t have the punch that the original had, but there are a lot of gems in this second effort that make shelling out the ridiculous theatre prices to see this one on the big screen totally worth it.

Let’s start with the music.  The arrangements were just as fantastic as they were in the first one.  You expect tight harmonies and great mashups from the Bellas and the Trebles.  But what I wasn’t ready for was the hilariously great vocals by the Bellas’ nemesis Das Sound Machine!  These German weirdos in their utilikilts and mesh tops were fantastic.  I mean, come on, how can you not love this:

maxresdefault-1

Also, was seriously shocked by the vocal stylings of the Green Bay Friggin Packers!  Yeah, you read that right.  In case you don’t believe me, here, check it out:

David Cross, Jordan Rogers, TJ Lang, Clay Matthews, David Bakhitari (head slightly turned away) and Josh Sitton in a scene from the motion picture "Pitch Perfect 2." Credit: Richard Cartwright, Universal Pictures

David Cross, Jordan Rogers, TJ Lang, Clay Matthews, David Bakhitari (head slightly turned away) and Josh Sitton in a scene from the motion picture “Pitch Perfect 2.” Credit: Richard Cartwright, Universal Pictures

It was a grown up version of a riff off, and it was fantastic!  This scene alone was worth the price of admission!  Not to mention Clay Matthews’s guns!  Yum!

The standard players were doing what they do.  Lily is still scary, Chloe is still trying to hard, Becca is still trying to be a music making rockstar, and Fat Amy, well….Fat rebel_wilson_pitch_perfect_2Amy is still being aca-awesome!  Her shenanigans in this installment of the Pitch Perfect franchise (I say that, because there is definitely room for more Pitchy goodness), were hilariously fantastic!

There are a few newcomers to this sequel.  There’s the newest Bella, Emily, tumblr_nfibgwcPGD1rng96vo1_1280played by Hailee Seinfeld, and she was delightful.  She brought a fresh faced innocence to these crazy Bellas, and helped smooth out the journey that the girls all go on together.  I loved her!

pitch-perfect-2-super-bowl-trailer-screenshot-david-cross-riff-off-ref-3David Cross also makes a cameo, and to say it is ridiculous is the understatement of the year!  It’s classic David, in all his scene stealing glory.  He’s funny.  He’s inappropriate.  He’s deliciously ridiculous, and I thought he was a great addition to the movie.

Also, Katey Sagal made a cameo as Emily’s mom, and a former Bella.  Katey, who will just always be Peg Bundy to me, was adorable and maternal in the best way, and can rock a pair of skinny jeans as well as Anna Kendrick, and I’m not just being kind!

23557EBB00000578-0-image-5_1416504636161Rounding out are my favorite commentators, Gail and John, who are still mean as ever!  They are the through line that keep me always wanting more, because these comedians bring the type of humor that just makes this reviewer’s hear soar!

The boys are back, too, but nothing about Benji, Jesse, or Bumper is really that memorable, so I’ll just leave that there.

All in all, I really enjoyed this movie.  Elizabeth Banks did a nice job with it as the director.  I look forward to more films from her.  It was silly, it was fun, and it had great music.  And Anna Kendrick has been one of my favorites since she was the scary little girl in Camp, and so I pretty much will watch anything she’s in no matter what it is.  She’s amazing.

Loved it!  Go get pitch slapped!  I think you’ll enjoy it.

PitchPerfect_large

Ciao for now,

M sm

Advertisements

Othello at Seattle Shakespeare Company in Seattle, WA

Entertainment Review, play review, Theatre Review

11141327_10152731950477539_893270799347102284_n

People!  People, people, people!!  Finally, a night of theatre I’m thrilled and excited to write about!  My only sadness was that I saw closing night’s performance, so if you missed this one, you missed out on a good one!

Shakespeare’s plays are among my favorites on the planet.  I love them so very very much, and Othello has two of my favorite characters at the heart of the story: Iago and Desdemona. And this production, people, this production had two of the strongest actors I have seen in a lonnnnnnng ass time on that stage bringing these two characters to life in a way that was fresh, powerful, and moving!

11150544_10152766624677539_7224202587430685503_nLet us start with the beautiful and amazing Hillary Clemens who played Desdemona.  Ms. Clemens was beautiful and a striking dichotomy of strength and femininity from the moment she stepped on stage to secretly marry Othello.  Her girlish excitement mixed with her womanly sensuality was refreshing and mesmerizing at the same time!  And as the play went on, as she fell more and more in love with her husband, stood up to her father, and lobbied for what was right for Cassio, I just fell more and more into the spell Ms. Clemens weaved around the stage.  Every moment was filled with clear intention, stunning choices, and brave movement!  Every moment was real and stunning, all coming together to create something that I love to experience in plays I’ve seen before, which is that moment where you hope the end will be different. SheSSC_Othello_2105-676 was so perfect, this Desdemona, that as she undressed, and stepped into her bath, the knowing of what was to come upon her face, the fear of her fate taunting her as she sank into the water of her bath, and I sat there, wishing and praying for a different ending to this tragedy of the Bard’s, knowing full well my prayers would not be answered.

And when the ending occurred, and the lovely Desdemona’s life was taken 31f503f8-f452-11e4-8407-cdb4c0ba9c49-300x449by the one man she was absolutely and completely devoted to was done with such a horrific beauty, that it took my breath away.  A familiar scene blocked so epically, stunningly violently that I was filled with shock, awe, and absolute despair at the moment Desdemona took her last breath.  I know Othello, played by Sean Phillips, was on the stage with Ms. Clemens, but honestly, I couldn’t take my eyes from her throughout the entire scene.  And as my eyes filled with tears as Othello smothered her last haggard breath with a pillow from their wedding linens, I couldn’t look away, because I didn’t want to miss a minute.  The tears fell for the loss of this beautiful creature who was the shining star of this wonderful production.

And as bright as Ms. Clemens’s Desdemona was, the dark, spiteful Iago was deliciously brought to life by one Mr. Darragh Kennan.  11148643_10152788267257539_316701078473174228_nOh, Mr. Kennan, where have you been all my life?!?!  Iago, my favorite villain, because his villainy is caused out of circumstance.  He’s seeing revenge in it’s purest form, and as the play goes on you can’t help but wonder what would have happened had he not been passed over.  There’s a human aspect to Iago that I’ve always adored, and Mr. Kennan played that human aspect perfectly!  His opening soliloquy was so brilliant, and set the tone for this amazing production.  Mr. Kennan captured the audience from his first word, and held it until his last moment.  Much like Ms. Clemens, Mr. Kennan’s choices were brave and brilliant.  His intentions so clear, his ability to listen was phenomenal, and his reactions so true and honest and in the moment, he made me proud to be an actor!

His devious plan came to life, his puppet mastery knew no bounds.  His interactions with the audience were perfectly placed, wonderfully executed, and I found myself spellbound by this unbelievably talented actor so much so that I was actually disappointed when the story was over.  Mr. Kennan commanded that stage, and made every scene he was in stronger, especially when it came to Mr. Phillips’s Othello.  I didn’t so much care for Mr. Phillips performance, but I’ll get to that, however, when he was on stage with Mr. Kennan, those scenes were his strongest, because Mr. Kennan brings out the best in his scene partners!  He anchored this show so well, that I found myself rooting for Iago because, dammit, he was likeable!  Thank you, Mr. Kennan for that performance.  I am better for having seen you creating art!  Thank you!

The cast as a whole was strong, although I did find Othello to be the weakest performance, which is hard to type, but it’s how I felt.  Mr. Phillips came out on a level 10 intensity and volume with speaking his lines.  He gave himself nowhere to go, nowhere to grow throughout the show.  His choices were not clear, and rather than play his intention, I found him playing his obstacle the entire time, and it drove me nuts.  It was hard to stay engaged in the story when every time Mr. Phillips opened his mouth, especially in the first half, he was shouting at everyone rather than connecting with them.  He was very one note throughout the performance.  Until the end.  That level of intensity was beautifully done during Desdemona’s death scene, and when he came upon her sleeping in her bath, it was one of the most beautifully staged scenes I’ve ever seen.  And when Othello kisses Desdemona those three times, again, Mr. Phillips had me hoping that maybe, just maybe, this time Othello wouldn’t kill his wife.  And his intensity of throwing Ms. Clemens around the stage, of holding her under the water of the bath, screaming out his lines of betrayal, it was beautifully balanced and wonderfully done.  So while I was underwhelmed by Mr. Phillips for most of the show, I did truly love his murder scene.

I must also give accolades to a few of the other characters whose performances were wonderful.  Bianca, played by the fiery Keiko Green 11150697_10152766624707539_4007719442217679389_nwas one of my favorites!  She had one of the best exit scenes I’ve seen in a long time.  Loved her passion and her fire and her commitment to this character.  I also really enjoyed Rodrigo, played by Trick Danneker.  If Bianca was walking fire, Rodrigo was walking air!  10982881_10152766624692539_7212443055923358395_nHe was adorable, and vulnerable, and malleable and the perfect puppet for Iago to master.  His death scene was so heartbreaking, and everything up until then was delightful.  I applaud both of these actors on a job well done!

I also have to applaud the designers of this show.  The costumes were great on everyone from the soldiers to the women to the Duke.  Powerful pieces, bold pops of color, and the white dress that Desdemona wears in the final scenes was inspired.  Bravo, Doris Black, bravo! 11204428_10152766624712539_1879978597553697404_n

And the costumes were lit by the brilliant Geoff Korf!  Oh, the lights in this show!  They were stunning!  There’s no other word for them.  They created intimate moments, powerful moments, sinister moments with seamless brilliance.  And as I said, the moment that Othello comes upon Desdemona sleeping in her bath is one of the most beautiful moments I’ve ever seen on stage.  I’d give anything for a photo of that moment.  Thank you, Mr. Korf.

The set was also amazing in it’s simplicity.  I loved the neutrality of the colors of the set, the genius of the moving platforms, and the ability of the set to turn into a large projection screen for Othello’s dark thoughts to come to life was erotic magic!  Loved it!

My hat goes off to the director of this show, John Langs.  The concept was clear, inspired, and brilliantly executed.  Mr. Langs had a strong team around him to bring his vision to life, and was so lucky to have this cast to bring his moments to life as well.  I will be looking for future productions from Mr. Langs, because I was truly moved by this production!

Being as opinionated as I am about theatre, it takes a lot to get me out of my seat at the end of a production to show the actors how much I enjoyed their show, and I didn’t even hesitate to stand at the end of this one.  Thank you all for a much needed night of good theatre!  You made me a very happy Lady!  My only regret is I didn’t go sooner so that I could have seen it more than once.

Adored, loved, and will not soon forget it!

Ciao for now,

M sm

Photos from Seattle Shakespeare Company’s Facebook page.

Legally Blonde at SecondStory Repertory Theatre in Redmond, WA

Entertainment Review, Theatre Review

11149253_977640478936023_2739152569008198595_n

I have taken about six deep breaths and exasperatingly let them out before starting to type this review.  Why, you might ask?  Well, because I really wanted to love this show.  I really enjoy this theatre, and for the most part have enjoyed shows I’ve seen there.  I also love a few of the leads, and had high expectations for this show.  Perhaps they were too high, because I was nothing but disappointed by this show.

Ok, there were a few high points.  First, the cast as a whole sounded great. The vocals were on point, especially the voice of Kristin Burch, who played Elle, the voice of Nicholas Tarabini, who played Warner, and the voice of Brynne Geiszler who played Vivienne.  The chorus was spot on as well, anchored by the voices of Sarah Russell as Pilar, Tatum Ludlum as Serena and Krista Johnson as Margot.

Second, some of the acting was done quite well.  I really enjoyed Mr. Tarabini’s performance as Elle’s ex-boyfriend/classmate at Harvard.  He is the antagonist of the show, his actions being what drive the story, and Mr. Tarabini did not disappoint.  I saw Mr. Tarabini in SecondStory Rep’s Next to Normal  and was thrilled to see that he was cast in this show.  However, his talent was truly wasted in the role of Warner, and he really should have been Emmett, but we’ll get to that.  Again, the main trio of sorority girls, Ms. Russell, Ms. Ludlum and Ms. Johnson were all very believable in their characters.  One chorus member, Devon Allen, who played Nikos and various ensemble parts was the star of the show!  He stole every scene he was in, and had the best bend and snap on the stage!  I give a huge Bravo to these fine performers.  And that is where the compliments end!

The main failure of this show was the concept.  Director Matt Wolfe missed the mark so badly it actually physically hurt to sit through this show!  He set it in the 80s!  The friggin 80s!  You can’t set Legally Blonde in the 80s because there are so many references that are so key to the 90s, and are necessary to the story!  The writer in me was seething because of all the line and lyric changes that were made to make this stupid concept ‘work’.  And what killed me was they didn’t remove all the references to the 90s.  They left in lines like “Aren’t there girls going wild somewhere without you?”  Newsflash, that is a 90s reference!  Or, “I don’t speak MTV”.  That’s a 90s reference, because MTV was still so new in the early 80s, no one spoke it yet!  It was so unbelievably irritating.

11209594_990287764337961_8987067345717679489_nAnd, to make matters a million times worse, let’s talk about the epic failure that were the costumes of this show!  I mean…I don’t know who Jocelyn Fowler is, but there was not an outfit on that stage that fit well or made sense!  Poor Mr. Tarabini had to look like some Don Johnson reject from Miami Vice.  1485080_990286844338053_2319785655602937654_nPaulette’s clothes looked like something a bad Madonna impersonator threw out because they were too tacky, and the sorority girls (I use the term loosely because half of them were young girls and the others looked old enough to be house mothers), were in an Omega Moo color schemed legging/tunic getup that wasn’t flattering on any of them!  And the poor UPS Guy, Kyle, never had a chance in the awful outfit he 11218055_990286871004717_2995818722343091613_nwas forced to wear, not to mention the Irishman of Paulette’s dream coming out dressed like an Outlander extra, complete with a Scottish hat with a red pom on the top of it.  Not cute.  Not appropriate.  And most importantly, NOT CORRECT!

But the worst part for me was the direction of Elle.  I’ve seen Ms. Burch in other productions at other theatres and she is talented as hell, so imagine my surprise when I watched her play Elle as a bitchy, unlikable, know-it-all from the get go!  The beauty of the character of Elle is that she’s likable!  She’s sweet, and beautiful, and has no idea that she has more to offer than those two qualities.  The whole effing point of this show is that Elle takes a journey to understanding that she’s smart!  She’s got more to offer than just her looks, and has to, let me repeat that: has to, figure that out on her journey.  But from the first scene in the dress shop where Elle is schooling the sales girl, to Elle dealing with Vivienne and Professor Callahan, all I saw was smart Elle who had already figured it all out.  I wasn’t invested at all.  I didn’t care if she got what she deserved. And my guess is this is how Ms. Burch was directed to play Elle.  Either way, it was not fun to watch.

And as if completely missing the mark on who Elle is wasn’t bad enough, the casting of this show made no sense to me based on the acting and singing skills I saw on that stage.  Mr. Tarabini should have been Emmett, as I said, because he sang and acted rings around Tadd Morgan who was cast as Emmett. Mr. Morgan was the weakest one on the stage.  He and Ms. Burch had zero chemistry, he messed up lines left, ride and sideways, and sang at her and not to her, and it was miserable to watch.

As I said, I was really upset because I really wanted to like this show, but Mr. Wolfe’s concept was so bad that I literally hated this production.  Please, anyone reading this who wants to direct a production of Legally Blonde, leave it in the 90s where it belongs!  Don’t change lines.  Don’t change lyrics.  Don’t mess with the project!  If you want to do an 80s show, do the friggin Wedding Singer!

The show does play for two more weekends, but I wouldn’t bother if I were you.  If I had it to do all over again, I’d have left at intermission and saved myself the agony.

I’m a fan of SecondStory Rep, and have high hopes for future productions, and will definitely be back.  Everyone slips now and again, and this was a major slip, in my opinion.  But it won’t keep me from seeing shows in the future. Unless, of course, I see that Mr. Wolfe is the director, then I might skip it.

Hated it.

Ciao for now,

M sm

Variety @ Second Story Hideaway in Redmond, WA

Entertainment Review, Theatre Review, Variety Show Review

11121772_858926434181143_842388723793677665_n

Ok, let’s start this one off by saying I have never seen a variety show before.  I’ve also never seen a burlesque show, in the traditional sense.  Therefore, I have no basis for comparison as to how the Variety Show at Second Story Hideaway stacks up against its competitors.  However, we all know that I do know what I like, and dahlings, I loooooved this show!  And the main reason is summed up in two fabulous words:  Sparkle Leigh!!

10409198_386598768200474_5005535972894238037_nThis amazing Diva was the hostess with the absolute mostest and kicked off the night with a performance of her own before Emcee-ing the rest of the event.  She was hysterical, fabulous, witty, and super stylish!  Loved the hair, loved the boots, loved the outfits, loved it all!  And when the costume change happened at intermission, the fashion just got more fabulous!  And the timing!  Oh, Miss Leigh has comedic timing of the genius level! Her ability to hold the crowd’s attention, roll with whatever crazy thing the performers did, and single handedly elevated that show to the fabulous level that only she could do!  I will be looking forward to future events hosted by Sparkle Leigh, because I know even if every act is ridiculous, she will entertain me like no body’s business, dahlings!  Yaasssssss!

Now, the rest of the show was filled with varying acts of drag performers, boylesque performers, and even an opera diva!!!  All the drag performers were fantastic!  11108953_481749911977715_3666404095272185812_nRuby Bouche was stunning and hysterical in her performance.  Sparkle Leigh’s sister, Patient Leigh did a stunning rendition of Memories from Cats, I 10488240_1484026081838030_8977053885322947596_nmean, she is a song bird if ever there was one!  And Biore Bang rounded out the cast with an amazingly emotional performance! I was thoroughly impressed with every single friggin one of them!

The Opera Diva, Ms. 10366078_10152111499578461_1853597970888780156_nBecky Peterson was a surprise for me, never expecting to see legit opera in a variety show.  But, sweet lawd, Ms. Peterson killed it!  Now, I’m not a fan of the opera, you will never see reviews of it here, because frankly, I have no desire to listen to that style of music.  However….I really enjoyed the performance that Ms. Peterson gave!  Loved the song choice, loved the props, loved the acting that came through the song.  She was beautiful, and wonderful, and I am honored to have heard her sing!  I wish her all the luck in the world in the vocal competition she’s embarking on later this year!

Now, the main acts of the night were boylesque performers, some better than others.  These men performed to everything from 80s rock to classic show tunes that they sang live!  One danced with a blowup doll, and then later pulled glitter out of his teeeeeeeeeny tiny g-string!  Another tied up two audience members in an odd way, while the yet another started out as Fred Astaire and ended up looking like a stripped down Sampson!

But the highlight for me, performance wise, was Butch Alice as the screaming goat in the Taylor Swift Trouble/Screaming Goat mash-up!  OMG!!  It was friggin hysterical!  I wish I had a photo to show you, because it was so brilliant!

All in all, it was a very entertaining and fun way to spend a Friday evening!  I hope to see more shows at the Hideway soon!  And I will definitely be on the lookout for future performances of the Queens of the night, because they were all fabulous with a capital Fabulous!

Loved it!

Ciao for now,

M sm