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Perez Reviews: Spring Awakening

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We did not enjoy the original Broadway production of Spring Awakening - for many reasons. To recap: too dark, felt unfinished and felt like it belonged more off-Broadway.

So, we went in to this new revival with very low expectations and were very pleasantly surprised.

This new production - done with hearing and deaf actors - makes the show feel super fresh. There is much more going on this time around.

There's also some much needed levity. There's more humor in this one. And Spencer Liff's choreography and staging adds sooooo much to the show!

Michael Arden did a superb job directing and some truly standout performances from Camryn Manheim, Andy Mientus, Austin McKenzie and Katie Boeck.

Definitely worth seeing, even if didn't like the original production!

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Perez Reviews: 'Preludes'

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We LOVE Lincoln Center Theater's LCT3 program, promoting the works of emerging artists and encouraging diverse audiences to visit the theater with affordable $30 tickets.

Sunday night we caught Dave Molloy's Preludes. He is more than "emerging" - he's very established! But this new piece is very experimental in nature and fits in perfectly with the other work of LCT3.

If you're going in and expecting Molloy's Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812, then you will be greatly disappointed.

While that show was based on War & Peace and was completely sung-through, Preludes is based on the life of the composer Rachmaninoff and it features A LOT of dialogue. Far more talking than singing.

While we've seen some of Molloy's more experimental work - quite enjoyably Black Wizard/Blue Wizard - this piece was lacking the passion of Natasha and the humor of Black Wizard/Blue Wizard.

Preludes is very cerebral. And a tad too experimental for our liking.

But, while we didn't like it, we found it enjoyable.

The actors did a great job and interspersed throughout the show - though not enough - were some really great songs.

We're glad we saw it and continue to look forward to what Dave Molloy does next!

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Perez Reviews: Jake Gyllenhaal in 'Little Shop Of Horrors'

| Filed under: Jake GyllenhaalBroadway BabiesPerez Reviews

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Jake Gyllenhaal may be a big star in Hollywood, but for theatergoers on Thursday night at New York City Center's production of Little Shop Of Horrors, it was all about Ellen Greene.

The actress was reprising her signature role of Audrey, which she originated in the early '80s off-Broadway and also portrayed in the film.

Greene was received like a rock star by the rapt audience, who warmly took to everyone in the cast, including the super talented Taran Killam from Saturday Night Live.

But, what you really want to know is…. Can Jake Gyllenhaal sing????

Well, the answer is HELL YEAH!!!

He was great as Seymour!!!!

Why has he not done more singing????

We hope to see him on Broadway in a musical real soon!

Everybody got to shine in this concert staging, but what was most apparent is that the music by Alan Menken and the late Howard Ashman is so brilliant and timeless!

This is one of the best musical theater scores of all time!

Howard Ashman was taken from us far too young of AIDS. But his legacy will live on in this show! Because Little Shop Of Horrors is running all over the world and will continue to do so forever and ever!

We LOVE New York City Center and all their programming! Another homerun for them!!!

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Perez Reviews: The King And I

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Lincoln Center Theater's new production of the Rodgers & Hammerstein classic The King And I is most likely the best that show has ever looked and sounded on Broadway!

Only the second time it's been revived, this staging was masterfully done by director Bartlett Sher in a grand and truly epic fashion, befitting the equally grand score and story.

This production most definitely has the largest orchestra of any Broadway production! They had a dedicated harp player!!!

What a thrilling and rich way to hear this iconic music!

Kelli O'Hara absolutely shines as Anna, a role perfectly suited for her voice and persona. She is stern and sweet, warm and light. This is a performance that will finally get her that Tony Award - after being nominated six times!

And, after seeing all the women in her category, she truly deserves it!

Ken Watanabe left us unimpressed as the King, but we like to think it's just the way that part is written. It's hard to be charming in that role.

Ashley Park was a real standout as Tumptim!

And major kudos to Michael Yeargan for his impressive sets!

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Perez Reviews: Fun Home

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Fun Home is a new Broadway musical that tells a very personal story about family and loss. The show is based on the book of the same name, about a lesbian comic book artist coming to terms with her father's death. Her father was a very complex man and this is a complex show. Not your typical Broadway fare!

It's extremely well done and satisfying, though also a bit frustrating - just like the story and the main character's dad.

Michael Cerveris gives a powerful and nuanced performance as the father, a conflicted English teacher who runs a funeral parlor out of his home - aka the "fun home" - and who moonlights in home restoration and homosexuality.

The subject matter is meaty and the one major complaint we had with the show is that this very complex story (told in a very complex and multilayered way - from the present, the past and the very distant past) was crammed into one act. While we are big fans of the one act musical, not every show benefits from that.

While the show is mainly about Alison and her father, Fun Home would be even better if some of the supporting characters were a bit more fleshed out - ESPECIALLY the mother! Judy Kuhn does a great job as the mom, but we wish we knew more about her and what made her tick. Her story is so tied to that of her husband, who cheated on her with countless men, and her daughter.

In real life, Alison Bechdel, whose book Fun Home is based on, wrote a second illustrated memoir all about her mother. We wish some of those elements could have been incorporated into the musical, so that it could feel like a more complete experience.

As it is, the book of the musical, written by Lisa Kron, poses more questions than it answers. This is not a show where everything is going to be spoon-fed for the audience or wrapped up with a bow on top. Like we said, not your typical Broadway fare.

Thankfully, director Sam Gold does a great job of making this show, which began at the Public Theater downtown, feel like a Broadway production. The set, by David Zinn, makes THE MOST of the Circle In The Square Theater and is used in very unexpected and effective ways.

The music, by Jeanine Tesori, with lyrics by Kron, is great.

And the very young and very talented Sydney Lucas, one of three actresses simultaneously playing the lead character, Alison, gives an outstanding performance. DAZZLING! She steals the show!

This little girl is such a star!!!

We wish things ended a bit clearer with Fun Home.

What's the takeaway? What's the message? What are we supposed to feel?


That's life! You don't always get what you want. And things aren't always so cut and dry.

Fun Home definitely got us thinking - and feeling!

Quite a great show!

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Perez Reviews: The Visit

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Thursday night saw the opening of the last new show of the current Broadway season, Kander & Ebb's long-in-the-works The Visit.

The show was originally supposed to reach Broadway in 2001 as a starring vehicle for Angela Lansbury. Life happened. Lansbury dropped out. Chita Rivera stepped in. And 14 years later it finally debuts in New York!

The Visit reteams the iconic composing duo of Kander & Ebb with frequent collaborator Rivera and playwright Terrence McNally, both of whom worked on Kiss Of The Spider Woman with them.

Like many Kander & Ebb shows (Cabaret, Chicago), The Visit explores dark themes.

A rich old woman comes back to her hometown after being gone a lifetime to avenge her past!

That rich old woman is the rich in talent Rivera, who at 82 years old may be making her final appearance on Broadway. And it is quite the star turn for her!

We last saw her on the stage in The Mystery Of Edwin Drood, which was not a good vehicle for her. The Visit, after many revisions throughout the years and finally being (smartly) trimmed down to it's current state of performed without intermission, is custom-tailored for Rivera.

This is Chita at her best! There's even a little dancing!

This old broad's still got it!

The production is on the smaller scale of Broadway musicals, but it is beautifully done by director John Doyle.

The show is a lot like Chicago in that it lives in an alternate world. It's based on reality but the whole affair is rather surreal. We kept waiting for the end and a reveal that it was all a dream, which never happened.

In addition to Rivera, the real star of the show is the music.

Fred Ebb may no longer be with us but John Kander is - he was at the opening! - and these songs they have left behind are of the highest quality.

Oftentimes the later work of composers isn't as good as their younger output. Thankfully, The Visit is not that case! These songs are some of their best!

The cast is mostly great, though we wish they would have chosen a better vocalist as Rivera's main love interest.

And kudos to newcomer John Riddle, who has a bright future ahead of him - and not just because he was so pretty to look at. He was captivating!

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Perez Reviews: Doctor Zhivago

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Doctor Zhivago has some of the best singing on Broadway!

BIG belting!

EXQUISITE vocal arrangements by music director/supervisor Ron Melrose!

GORGEOUS orchestrations by Danny Troob to really show it off!

And, unfortunately, THE WORST book of the new Broadway season.

This musical would have worked sooooo much better as an opera - without any dialogue. Or maybe with heavy narration and minimal dialogue.

Michael Weller had the merciless task of condensing the long book/film (both long) into a long and hard-to-follow musical. And as if that weren't daunting enough, he was also faced with not just editing down but also creating…. lots of cheese!

This love story is so melodramatic that it's hard to find any of it believable and even harder to not audibly laugh at some of this campy dialogue.

It's a shame because many of the songs - with music by Lucy Simon and lyrics by Michael Korie & Amy Powers - are quite beautiful and really good.

It doesn't help either that director Des McAnuff has loaded the show with so many guns going off continually. It's incredibly loud and distracting!

Kelly Barrett as Zhivago's love interest is a revelation in this role and absolutely spectacular! And Paul Alexander Nolan, whom we've seen in previous productions, delivers the best performance we've ever seen him give in Doctor Zhivago.

As for the title character, Tam Mutu would have been served far better if - like we said - this were an opera!

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