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Perez Reviews: Under My Skin

| Filed under: Broadway BabiesPerez Reviews

under my skin play

We love going to see shows. All kinds of shows.

We're a big supporter of the arts and live entertainment especially, so it pains us to see something as disappointing as Under My Skin, a new play currently off-Broadway at the Little Shubert Theater.

We have seen actors who are starring in this show before in other productions. We know they're good. Real good! Unfortunately, sometimes you're just saddled with really bad material. Such is the case here.

As you might be able to tell by the artwork above, Under My Skin isn't campy and fun. It's cheesy and cheap!

The show feels like a bad romantic comedy from the 1980s that was made for a cable network.

Sorta like Big with health care reform and sex thrown into the mix, the show tells the story of a man and woman who swap bodies and the greedy dude learns empathy and altruism from the noble woman.

Unfortunately, the humor in this comedy is in short supply. The jokes are forced and so often the material is preachy and too obvious. You don't need to hammer the audience over the head and explicitly recap what we should already be feeling and thinking.

Robert Sternin and Prudence Fraser are making their New York debut with this play they wrote. They previously found lots of success writing for sitcoms. So at least they've already accomplished lots and are now pursuing their original passion, theater. We applaud that and despite us strongly disliking this show, we hope they continue to pursue their dreams!

On the bright side, the scenic design by Stephen Dobay was awesome!!!

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Perez Reviews: Queen Of The Night

| Filed under: Broadway BabiesPerez Reviews

queen of the night

Queen Of The Night is an extravagant feast for the senses - ALL of them!

Brought to you by many of the same people behind the hit Sleep No More, Queen Of The Night shares many similar sensibilities - but it is a FAR superior and satisfying show!

Like Sleep No More, Queen Of The Night is an immersive AND interactive show.

Unlike Sleep No More, Queen Of The Night has more focus and an easy-to-follow plot. You know where to look, when to look and you leave the night feeling entertained, satisfied and stuffed!

The premise of Queen Of The Night is simple. A love story. It's very Romeo & Juliet as told through the minds of some mischievous merrymakers.

It's like a Baz Luhrman film come to life!

This feast for the senses of a show includes stunning visuals! Gorgeous costumes! DANCING! Magic! And some truly thrilling acrobatics that enhance the sweet, satisfying and very NC-17 plot.

This is a love story with lots of… SEX!

And to enhance the intimate mood guests are liquored up and fed!

The one thing that we didn't like about Queen Of The Night was this almost hyper extravagance that came with the meal. It wasn't just dinner - it was en event! And a very carnivorous one!

We like meat. We eat meat. But it just felt a wee bit gross when a swarm of cooked baby pigs came waltzing into the ballroom and onto the plates of many tables - as did huge racks of lamb and other dead animals. We had full lobsters on our table. We like lobster, but ours wasn't even made easy to eat with some pre-slicing and the like. It was messy and laborious so we just opted to have the vegetarian paella instead.

But we felt bad that we left so much lobster on our plate. And we felt even worse that so many baby pigs have to be slaughtered and then only half eaten or less by each table. Unnecessarily wasteful!

Now that we got that out of the way….

Dessert was delicious!

Chocolate cake was brought out and the only way to eat it was to be spoon-fed by the performers!

Sexy!

And what's even more super fun is that the show you see is only about 70% of all the action. A lot happens in the hallways, in hidden rooms and backstage.

At one point a guy from a table next to ours was taken away and he returned a few minutes later fully undressed with just his underwear on!

We were lucky enough to have two "interactions" - a very seductive dance that was performed upon and with us, and then we were taken… Well, let's not reveal all the surprises!

And adding to the fun of it all is the strict "fancy" dress code that Queen Of The Night enforces. People really did it up! So fun!

Queen Of The Night is not just a show or a show with a meal. It's a whole night! A night you'll never forget!

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Perez Reviews: Les Miserables

| Filed under: Broadway BabiesPerez Reviews

les miserables broadway 2014 revival ramin karimloo

The new Broadway revival of Les Miserables is like eating a big steak at a fancy restaurant and then having lots of dessert!

The meat is that exquisite, timeless and iconic score by Claude-Michel Schonberg and Herbert Kretzmer. A steak cooked properly is always tasty! And this Les Miserables is juicy!

The dessert is some phenomenal performances!

The men RULE this production!

Ramin Karimloo as Jean Valjean gives one of the best performances we have EVER seen in the theater! His voice is so unreal we thought they may have been using live autotune or a ton of reverb. They don't. His voice is just THAT GOOD! Such an awe-inspiring instrument!!!!!! And his acting was superb as well!

Will Swenson makes you forget all about Russell Crowe as Javert. He was so convincing, it was as if he was born to play this part!

Andy Mientus is every bit the heartthrob as Marius. He has the face and voice of an angel! The audience just falls in love with him! Great singing, great acting and we need to mention great looking again! Cuz he is!

And Gaten Matarazzo as Gavroche is just equal parts cute, insanely talented and heartbreaking!

Kudos to Keala Settle for being the standout woman as Madame Thenardier. In addition to her big voice she brought her big comedic chops and brought some much-needed levity to the show! So funny!

Directors Laurence Connor and James Powell did a fabulous job of making the show different enough from the original but not messing with it too much to screw up a really good thing.

This production feels epic but also has some truly beautiful intimate moments too!

And congrats, as well, to Christopher Jahnke, Stpehen Metcalfe and Stephen Booker for their great new orchestrations.

A big round of applause and a standing ovation!!!

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Perez Reviews: Here Lies Love

| Filed under: Broadway BabiesPerez Reviews

here lies love 1

Wow. Wow. Wow.

Here Lies Love is one of the best new shows we have seen in years!

The new musical from Fatboy Slim and Talking Heads icon David Byrne is currently playing downtown, but this could easily play uptown and it SHOULD be a big Broadway smash - just not in a traditional theater.

The show is like Evita Part 2 in so many ways - and we mean that in the best way possible!

Just like the Andrew Lloyd Webber classic billed itself as a "rock" opera and told the story of a fiercely powerful female political figure, Here Lies Love calls itself a "revolutionary musical experience" and tells the story of a fiercely powerful female political figure.

In this case, that woman is Filipina Imelda Marcos and that "revolutionary musical experience" is a disco opera!

Like Evita, Here Lies Love is completely sung-through. There is no dialogue. The entire story is told through song!

And these are not "musical theater" songs. These are big pop songs told through mostly disco, dance and pop arrangements.

They are GREAT songs!!!!!!!!!!! GREAT SONGS!!!!

We're STILL singing the title track!

Conveying emotion without any dialogue and effectively showing a character's journey is not easy, but all of the actors do a superb job! Each one!

The show tells the story of Imelda as well as that of her husband, Ferdinand, and that of slain Filipino politician Benigno Aquino.

There is hunger, fame, corruption, greed, adultery, fashion, fun and more! This show has it all, as told through the wildly inventive creative imagination of director Alex Timbers, who also brilliantly conceived and staged the new Broadway production of Rocky.

Here Lies Love is presented as an immersive theatrical experience. There are no seats. The audience is standing and moved around the entire rectangular-shaped room.

Every square inch is used and it's dazzling to see how the stages and sets are transformed and evolve.

We were also SO IMPRESSED by Clint Ramos' costumes! As one would hope, Imelda wears soooo many in the show! And there are so many quick changes - some done right on stage. It's dazzling!

Everything about this production dazzles!

Even though it often tells sad tales and shows ugly moments, it still is told through a shiny disco veneer. Colorful! Happy!

You will walk away feeling GOOD!

This just isn't a musical. It's a concert experience!

It's a MUST-see!!!!!

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Perez Reviews: Heathers

| Filed under: Broadway BabiesPerez Reviews

The new Heathers musical, currently playing off-Broadway, will fuck you gently with a chainsaw!

If you liked Legally Blonde the musical, which we did, then you will love Heathers!

The stage show based on the iconic '80s movie has everything the singing Elle Woods production did - including a lot of the same creative team - and MORE!

Heathers has sass, sex, songs and laughs! Lots of laughs!

Yes, there's really song in the show called My Dead Gay Son! And it WINS!!!

Big high five to Kevin Murphy & Laurence O'Keefe for not only writing those super fun songs but ALSO writing the equally fun book! Very unusual in the musical theater world and to be applauded!

Heathers is definitely an "off-Broadway" production and prime to make the jump to the Great White Way!

In this production, Veronica barely has any costume changes - a pitiful two or three!! On Broadway we'd want at least 12!

And can we do something about her wig ASAP, please? We know things are lower budget off-Broadway, but that's just CHEAP!

Thankfully, though, when our only main critique is the lack of costumes and the minimalistic stage, you know you've got a winner - with a very attractive and talented cast of up-and-comers!

Barret Wilbert Weed is no Winona Ryder, and she's not trying to be. Vocally she's amazing in Heathers and we enjoyed her acting too. But she's no Winona. She played Veronica a bit too cheery and optimistic, whereas Ryder brought more edge and darkness.

It was wonderful to see the adorable Elle McLemore from Bring It On again - putting her cheerleader skills to good use!

Jessica Keenan Wynn and Alice Lee were fab and fab as Heather Chandler and Heather Duke, respectively.

BUT….

The real star of this show is Ryan McCartan as JD Dean - aka the Christian Slater part.

McCartan is electric! We could not take our eyes off him onstage! And not just because he's dreamy to look at! The actor, currently starring on some Disney Channel show we'd never heard of before, has a BEAUTIFUL voice and so much presence! Star quality! He's truly magnetic on stage!

And he completely made us forget about Christian Slater! He was THAT good!

We really hope Heathers transfers to Broadway. We'd love to see them take this up a few notches! Bigger show and bigger audiences!

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Perez Reviews: Violet

| Filed under: Broadway BabiesPerez ReviewsSutton Foster

violetbway03 605x329

Sutton Foster is not even 40 years old yet and she is already one of the greatest musical theater actresses of all time!!!!

Like Audra McDonald, there seems to be nothing Sutton can't do on the stage!

In the Roundabout Theater Company's new Broadway production of Violet, Foster plays the title character, for which she was just nominated for a Tony, and she gets to show so much range as an actress/singer.

This isn't her typical musical comedy role. This is a character in pain, disfigured, seeking salvation, LONGING for love and so vulnerable! And Sutton plays all those moments beautifully, as well as adding some much-needed lightheartedness also.

Foster is in the show almost the entire time, which means we are blessed with song after song in which she's soars - solo or with a partner.

Her voice sounds SOOOOOO GOOD in this!!!

Lots of great tunes in this show, with church number Raise Me Up particularly bringing the roof down!

And besides Sutton, Joshua Henry is also superb as a potential suitor of Violet's.

The show is very satisfying, BUT….

It would have been even more enjoyable under different direction!

Director Leigh Silverman's vision seemed basic and uninspired. And some of his choices were just misguided.

Having the orchestra on stage in this show really took away. It felt like an Encores production, which is where this revival of Violet began. But it shouldn't have remained that way for the Broadway transfer!

Whereas in Chicago, which also got its revival start at Encores, the orchestra is addressed and makes sense - in Violet the orchestra is ignored and unnecessary on stage. They're distracting!

So many moments could have been more beautiful and poignant if there ware more of a set for them and lighting focus.

And, another puzzling decision, for which we can only blame the director, is the choice to have Sutton's character NOT have a visible scar. Violet suffered a serious accident at a young age and was left with a horrible facial reminder, which affects the way people treat her, yet that is not visually represented on Foster's face.

We didn't need Phantom Of The Opera makeup, but we needed SOMETHING!

Thankfully, though, the show's music and actors more than make up for those shortcomings.

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Perez Reviews: The Substance Of Fire

| Filed under: Broadway BabiesPerez Reviews

subtance of fire

Before there was Brothers & Sisters or Other Desert Cities there was The Substance Of Fire, one of Jon Robin Baitz's first plays, which originally premiered in 1991.

The play, currently off-Broadway at 2econd Stage is everything we have come to love and expect from Baitz.

The Substance Of Fire is about a family patriarch and what happens when his publishing business is crumbling.

It's an exploration on family and the intricacies of those relationships. It's funny and sad and beautiful and doesn't always end like you wish it would.

We left the show a bit frustrated things didn't end nice and neatly, but we did leave very thankful we saw it - especially for the performance of John Noble, as the dad who makes your curmudgeon of a father seem like a cheery perma-smiling pop!

This character is very unlikely yet Noble makes him more than human. He makes him likeable! Not an easy feat!

He's truly superb and we were SHOCKED to read in his bio that he is Australian. His character is originally from Germany and his accent is so convincing that we thought he was from there!!!!

Daniel Eric Gold is another standout as the son with the heart of gold.

Fine fine acting all-around!

Fine fine production!

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