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Perez Reviews: Heathers

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

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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

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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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Perez Reviews: If/Then

If Idina Menzel were not so super talented, then If/Then would be such a Debbie Downer of a show - more so than it already is!

Unfortunately, this is no Wicked or Rent.

If/Then fails to serve the greatness that is its leading lady and her big Broadway return in 10 years is dampened by a show that is underwhelming at best and laborious throughout.

The whole concept of the show, a musical ripoff of the Gwyneth Paltrow movie Sliding Doors, does a disservice to the material and actors. If/Then would have worked A LOT better as a musical comedy! The show is a dramatic musical, but you're not very invested in the characters because you don't have time to be. The action is split into two alternating stories that explore the different consequences Idina's character would have been faced with if she made different decisions in her life.

Brian Yorkey's book literally made us groan repeatedly. There were so many moments we wanted to pull our hair out throughout the show, but then - thankfully - Idina would sing and all would be temporarily better.

Note to Mr. Yorkey: cursing repeatedly does not make your show "cool" or "edgy".

And even worse and more distracting than the book was the choreography by Larry Keigwin. It is just embarrassingly cheesy and bad!

Sigh.

THANKFULLY, though, there are some real standout performances. James Snyder brings so much warmth to his role as the love interest that you can't help but fall in love with him. And LaChanze brings so much humor and personality to her role as the best friend that she almost steals the
show!

Annmarie Milazzo did a FANTASTIC job with the vocal arrangements and she must be applauded for truly giving the audience what they want - to hear Idina sing and really show off that big and iconic voice of hers!

Menzel is at the top of her game vocally, and despite the show itself being lackluster, she will still likely get a Tony nomination!

Hopefully next in line for her… Menzel with a Z! Or something like that!

A Menzel one-woman show would have a lot more appeal and would be such a universally loved hit!

Do it! Do it! Do it!

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Perez Reviews: Cabaret

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We had never seen Cabaret before - until recently! And, boy, are we glad that the first production of the iconic Kander & Ebb musical we saw is the much-heralded one by the Roundabout Theater Company, now playing on Broadway with Michelle Williams and Alan Cumming in the starring roles

This is a revival of a revival, which is very unusual and not done - but it sure is merited!

Directed and conceived by Sam Mendes and Rob Marshall, their Cabaret is brilliant! You are transported and immersed in the Kit Kat Club, which happens to be the old Studio 54 space.

This production is dark, sexy and oh so bittersweet!

You're all probably wondering if Michelle Williams can sing. We know she can act, and the answer is a resounding YES! She sounds awesome and we are surprised she hadn't sooner gotten her Anne Hathaway on!

Alan Cumming is sinister and sensual. He's completely captivating!

And the entire ensemble is great - and HOT!

It must have taken such a long time to cast this production because every member of the house band - prominently featured and utilized in the show - is ridiculously good looking!

BUT….

None of the bells and whistles that this production has would matter much were it not for the timeless score! Those songs!

And the book still feels fresh!

Cabaret is only playing a limited run, so hurry and get your tickets NOW!

P.S. Major props and congratulations also to Deborah Hecht, the show's dialect coach. Those German accents were all flawless!!!! Kudos!

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Perez Reviews: Hedwig - On Broadway!

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The bar was exceptionally high for Neil Patrick Harris as the titular Hedwig in the new Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch, our favorite musical of all time. Really.

We saw the show 10 times in the '90s and early 2000s in various incarnations. We even had Donovan Leitch perform AS Hedwig at our birthday party a few years back.

We saw John Cameron Mitchell do the part 6 times. He didn't just originate the role and write the book for the musical. John WAS Hedwig. And he was excellence on stage. Every night!

So, like we said, the bar was EXCEPTIONALLY HIGH for Neil Patrick Harris. Especially for us.

And, we weren't convinced at first.

It wasn't until The Origin Of Love that something clicked within us.

This is not just a new production. This is a new show. This is a BROADWAY show with big production values and a big star that delivers a big performance! And we had to stop comparing him to John Cameron Mitchell!

Neil Patrick Harris will win the Tony for his interpretation of Hedwig! Not just because he was so much good will in the theater community and has gracefully and flawlessly hosted the Tony Awards for several years. Neil will win the Tony Award because he DESERVES TO WIN the Tony Award for this performance. He is THAT good! And he is literally on stage the entire show! If he would have failed, so would have this production!

As the show goes on and you forget that a big star is playing the part you get lost in Hedwig's story. Hedwig's gripping story! Hedwig's inspiring story of love and redemption that we can all relate to!

Neil COMMANDS the stage of the Belasco theater!

This is Neil Patrick Harris unlike you've ever seen him before!

This is a fearless performance! A sexy performance! A vulnerable performance! Strong, confident, and it's wickedly fun too!

And he sounds SO GOOD!

Props to NPH's voice coach, Liz Caplan!

And huge huge HUGE props to everyone who turned this production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch into a new show!

This is soooooo different from what played at the Jane Street Theater many moons ago.

The book has been updated by Cameron Mitchell. Wonderfully so.

The arrangements have been updated by composer Stephen Trask. Wonderfully so. Especially the inspired reworking of Sugar Daddy!

The costumes! Oh, have the costumes been updated by Madonna's stylist, Arianne Phillips. We went in thinking there would be just two outfits in the show. Boy were we wrong! So many looks and reveals and quick changes! EPIC costuming!

And there are probably just as many wigs, all done beautifully by Mike Potter.

Michael Mayer gave the show so much razzle dazzle, and it all worked and made sense!

And seeing Hedwig again reminded us what a truly flawless score it has. EVERY song is so good! And the book is JUST AS GOOD!

That's what makes Hedwig and the Angry Inch so great!

We sat there in awe!

Neil Patrick Harris gives his all!

His performance is more physical than John's was. And boy does he work that stage!

Kudos to Spencer Liff for the choreography and "musical staging"!

And we are still just so happy and thrilled that mainstream audiences are getting exposed to this very important and brilliant work!

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is an inspiring story of how difficult life can be, but when we channel that pain and longing into something positive - we can create beauty.

This production is beautiful. And Neil Patrick Harris is beautiful in it!

You will likely see us in the audience over and over again!

Get your tickets NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

P.S. The Origin Of Love as done in the production is literally one of the most beautiful and moving moments we have experienced in a musical. Ever!!!!!!!

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Perez Reviews: Mothers And Sons

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It would be easy to dismiss Mothers and Sons as just another AIDS play from Terrence McNally.

But Terrence McNally is not just any other playwright. He is the great American gay playwright. He's the Arthur Miller of queer dramaturgy. He writes important plays about gay life and AIDS.

And his latest is just as important! A reminder of an era that has passed but is still affecting people in many meaningful ways.

The story is about a mother's loss and how she comes to terms - or doesn't - with her son's passing of AIDS.

Like life, Mothers and Sons is at times very funny and at times extremely emotional and sad. And true to life, things don't always end in a happy ending or wrapped up in a neat little bow.

But this play is beautifully written and even more beautifully acted by the great dame that is Tyne Daly.

She gives a tour-de-force performance! Showy but not forced.

And equally beautiful in this production is Bobby Steggert, who plays the husband of the widow that Daly's son in the play left behind. Less theatrical than Daly but just as good, Steggert is so real and believable in the part we oftentimes forgot he was acting. He was being. And being so good and sweet and charming and filled with love and light! He shines!

The same cannot be said of his counterpart, the miscast Frederick Weller. Weller looks way younger than his character is supposed to be, and seemingly to compensate he has a distracting vocal affectation - as if he's trying to age his voice. He is acting way hard. Too hard.

And, rounding out the cast is precocious youngster Grayson Taylor, who is so endearing. Kids always work on Broadway! And so does this play!

Go out and see it! It's nice to see shows besides musicals!

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