Tag Archives: musical

Psych: The Musical

USA Networkpsych-the-musical

Psych Season 7, episode 15/16

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Santa Barbara: murder capital of the world . . . or so fake-psychic detective Shawn Spencer would have us believe. But when former playwright and suspected murderer “Z” escapes from the institution (where he had been kept since the night he was found in the burned theater with the murdered critic who was going to ruin his show), Shawn’s assertions begin to appear more accurate. Especially when his only lead is an escaped serial killer with an addiction to show tunes. As the body count begins to rise, it seems Shawn’s gut may just be wrong . . . perhaps the obvious suspect is also the correct one.

I love when TV shows do random musical episodes, and Psych: The Musical is no exception. This extra-long double episode is classic Psych, playing up the both the strengths and the long-running gags of the show with aplomb. I do feel that, since such a large portion of the focus is on the music, a bit of the detective side of the show slips to the wayside . . . but you do still get a solid murder mystery with an interesting twist here. Really though, the main focus is on the humor and hijinks, and that comes through strongly in the songs and choreography. In fact, I would almost say that the whole point of parts is solely to be goofy and mess around–which is not to say that the music and choreography is not impressive in its own strange way. The cast actually has a remarkably solid pool of vocal talent; James and Dulé are quite good, and I’ve mentioned previously that I love hearing Timothy Omundson’s singing. His duets with James are probably the best (and silliest) parts of the show. Maggie’s ability to dance in heels is quite impressive as well. The music was pretty typical showtunes, although nothing majorly catchy. “I’ve Heard It Both Ways” is probably the most memorable as well as the song which embodies the characters and the show the best; it’s probably the only track I would listen to outside of watching the episode. All in all, Psych: The Musical was neither my favorite Psych episode nor my favorite TV musical, but it was still a fun show–mostly recommended for Psych fans as opposed to musical fans in general.

Written & Directed by Steve Franks/Music by Adam Cohen/Produce by James Roday & Dulé Hill/Starring James Roday, Dulé Hill, Timothy Omundson, Maggie Lawson, Kirsten Nelson, & Corbin Bernsen/Guest Starring Anthony Rapp, Ally Sheedy, Barry Bostwick, Brooke Lyons, Kurt Fuller, Sage Brocklebank, & Jimmi Simpson

 

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Galavant (2015 TV Series)

ABC Studiosgalavant

My rating: 3.5 of 5

Once upon a time, our hero Knight Galavant had it all: fame, success, the love of the fair Madalena. That is, until King Richard kidnapped Madalena and she chose fame and fortune over true love. So, our hero did what any good hero would–lost himself in drink and self pity. Which is where the spunky Princess Isabella found him when she brought him a quest to save her family and win back Madalena’s love. But the road to true love and success is never as smooth as it first looks, especially for the music-loving Galavant.

I think that Galavant is the sort of show to be extremely polarizing–some will adore it while others will think it’s utter rubbish. And I should say at the outset that, if you don’t like musicals, you should avoid this show, for sure. I have to compare it to a Disney movie in that regard; at any given moment, the cast is liable to burst out in song. Plus, you know, Alan Menken is hugely involved in the writing of the music, so there’s a strong Disney feel to it there also. Also, the whole focus on true love and basically the whole story line follow that feel as well. But in a more adult way (well, at least with more innuendo and language) that is oddly combined with a middle-school boys’ locker room flavor (with all the bodily noises and awkward sexuality that goes with that). Actually, looking at the story objectively, it sounds kind of awful, but in the moment, it’s kind of enjoyable. There’s a lot of humor, some of it actually funny. Plus a great deal of fourth wall breaking and commentary on current events. And the cast is actually well-picked for their roles. Personally, my favorite is Timothy Omundson, whose character is kind of pathetic and despicable both at the beginning but who grows wonderfully over the course of the two seasons. Also, he’s just a great actor, and it’s fun to get to hear him sing. So yeah, Galavant is definitely not for everyone, but if you enjoy musicals and Disney–and are interested in a more adult-focused story in that style–it might be worth trying.

Created by Dan Fogelman/Executive Producers  Dan Fogelman, Alan Menken, Glenn Slater, Chris Koch, Kat Likkel, John Hoberg, &  John Fortenberry/Produced by Marshall Boone & Helen Flint/Music by Alan Menken, Christopher Lennertz, & Glenn Slater/Starring Joshua Sasse, Timothy Omundson, Vinnie Jones, Mallory Jansen, Karen David, & Luke Youngblood/Narrated by Ben Presley

Note: This series consists of 2 seasons with a total of 18 episodes.

 

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The Addams Family (Live Musical)

Addams Family MusicalPresented by The Green Room Community Theatre

My rating: 4.5 of 5

They’re a perfectly normal family. The mother, Morticia, is obsessed with death. The daughter, Wednesday, tortures her brother Pugsley for fun–and he likes it. Uncle Fester is in love with the moon. And the butler may not even be alive. Okay, maybe they’re not exactly normal. But they’re a family. And they believe in love. So when Wednesday decides to bring home the boy she loves to meet the family, they attempt to pull off the impossible–act like a normal family for the evening.

So I’m really not familiar with the original The Addams Family at all, but last Friday (the 13th, no less!) I had the privilege of seeing the musical version performed live at a nearby community theater. And may I just say, it was fantastic! The odd juxtaposition of the morbid and the humorous in the story writing works brilliantly; it was very funny but also enticingly dark. And the incorporation of stuff like family values and true love mixed in with all the madness just serves to heighten the experience. The characters are this fantastic mishmash of strange individuals, and I think the casting for this particular production was excellently done, bringing out the best in the characters. My one complaint (and I think this is just me personally) is that the boyfriend, Lucus, was too bland, even for a guy who’s supposed to come across as just plain ordinary. I mean, he comes across as bland even when singing Crazier Than You with Wednesday, by which point, I was expecting him to show a bit more character. Still, I suspect it’s just me being fickle with my expectations. The music was really, really nice–catchy showtunes with a delicious, dark twist. And some very fun choreography worked into the song sequences, which added a lot to the show as well. I think, for any of you who may be in the greater Hickory area, this would be a show I would highly recommend going to see (there are two more performances, Saturday and Sunday). And for those who don’t have that privilege, I would say that if The Addams Family musical is being performed somewhere near you, you should go check it out there.

Created by Charles Addams/Book and Lyrics by Marshall Brickman & Rick Elice/Music and Lyrics by Andrew Lippa/Directed by Caleb Ryan Sigmon/Musical Direction by Cathy S. Banner/Choreography by Amy Berry/Starring Gardy Muñoz, Amy Berry, Annette Greene, Blake Barrier, Dalton Isaac, Cassandra Barrier, Chris Stone, Grant Sizemore, Tad Fulbright, Christian Underwood, & Grace Bollinger

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Once More, with Feeling

Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 6, Episode 7

Written & Directed by Joss Whedon/Starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicholas Brendan, Alyson Hannigan, Emma Caulfield, Anthony Stewart Head, Michelle Trachtenberg, Amber Benson, James Marsters, & Hinton Battle

As usual, something’s afoot in Sunnydale, California . . . only it’s not particularly clear exactly what that something is. Buffy Summers and her friends find themselves randomly bursting into song–and choreographed dance routines–as though they were starring in a musical. Further investigation (just walking outside, for instance) reveals that this musical mayhem is affecting not only “the gang” but the entire town–just another of the joys of living in Sunnydale. This would seem a relatively benign problem until people start spontaneously combusting from dancing so hard . . . not to mention all the emotional and relational damage from everyone bluntly singing their innermost secrets out to anyone around to hear! Clearly, something must be done, and fast–and Buffy and her friends are just the people for the job.

It’s practically unheard of for me to write about an individual television episode, but I feel that “Once More, with Feeling” truly deserves the attention. This single episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer is written as a musical and can be honestly appreciated as such on its own, although the depths of the character development will be more greatly appreciated if you’ve watched the previous episodes. Basically, you’re coming into the story at the point where Buffy has been brought back from death by her well-meaning friends–only she’s really not happy to be back. Plus, there are a lot of complex interrelational issues that basically explain themselves through the songs themselves. And the songs are something incredible! Sweeping through genre boundaries to touch everything from classic musical styles to jazz to ballet-inspired to hard rock, each and every piece is both catchy and edgy. Honestly, it’s one of the best musicals I’ve seen, particularly when you consider that most of the actors were not professional singers. Amber Benson’s role, in particular, was breathtaking; she’s always been a character who was more than I expected, but in this musical, she truly shone. Beautiful voice! The story development is pretty intense–this comes at a breaking point of sorts in the lives of the characters. The songs really reveal this in their blend of passion and angst, hope and emptiness. If you’ve a taste for musicals at all, I would definitely recommend “Once More, with Feeling” even if you wouldn’t generally like the series as a whole–truly an impressive and moving work.

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Will Grayson, Will Grayson

Authors: John Green & David Levithan

Usually miles separate two complete strangers, both by the name of Will Grayson, but living quite different lives. What are the chances they would ever run into each other? Even more, what are the chances they would both find themselves heavily influences by the same person? To one Will, Tiny Cooper is a life-long best friend, like it or not. To the other, Tiny is his first boyfriend, the bright person who penetrated the darkness of his deep depression. To both Wills, Tiny is an important friend–one who showed them a clearer picture of what love is truly about. And the way they unite to repay some of their debt to Tiny is nearly as spectacular as the autobiographical musical he created.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is an intriguing two-voiced story. It’s the first time I’ve read anything of John Green’s, although I’ve enjoyed several stories by David Levithan before. They work well together, crafting a united story with two very distinct characters and writing styles. It works remarkably well–both Will’s write in first person, so the differentiation of styles is helpful. I think the writing styles depict the inner character of the Will’s nicely as well, particularly Levithan’s Will who is depressed and lonely–he writes entirely in lowercase and records conversations as though they were in a play (will: yadda, yadda, yadda. tiny: yadda, yadda. etc.). I think it’s intriguing how Tiny (not a title character at all) is really the mover/shaker character of the whole story–seriously, one of the biggest, gayest, most emotionally honest and effusive characters ever. He’s kind-of larger-than-life, but again, that works with the story; he contrasts with the more timid, dark characters of both Wills. The whole story is like that: silly, painful, absurd, dark, such a contrast of ups and downs that I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry (and often ended up doing both). And mixed in are those moments of such poignant clarity that I just want to shout “Yes!” out loud. Very interesting. I’d recommend Will Grayson, Will Grayson to those who want a good story, but also something more, a good challenge to re-evaluate yourself. Ages 16+.

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Introducing the Auditorium

In the course of writing about the stories that I love and that have influenced me, I’ve found that limiting myself to reviewing books–or even adding in things like manga, audio dramas, and movies–is inadequate. It fails to truly allow an acknowledgement of those stories presented in a live fashion such as ballet or theater where the performance itself is a large part of the story . . . and where each experience of the story is bound to be slightly different. Therefore, instead of simply ignoring these stories–or just lumping them in with my book review or media reviews–I have decided to add a new page, the Auditorium, which will feature performances that I have enjoyed. I’ll try to focus mostly on the things that will carry through between different performances in different places, but I intend to also highlight those things about each performance that are unique and special. I hope  you enjoy!

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