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Perez Reviews: Allegiance

| Filed under: Broadway BabiesPerez Reviews

Allegiance is an important story to tell and a difficult one.

Inspired by his own life, the new Broadway musical stars Star Trek legend George Takei in a dramatization of the time during World War II where over 120,000 Japanese-Americans were sent to concentration camps.

Takei skillfully acts his part, although he isn't giving much material in the singing department.

Thankfully, though, Broadway and Disney legend Lea Salonga is utilized to the best of her abilities and delivers THAT VOICE, which is easily one of the top three of all time in musical theater.

Telly Leung does a fine job of playing the war hero, or is he the anti-hero of Allegiance? His character, more often than not, comes across as unlikeable. And that's a major problem for a protagonist of a show.

The music is good, if not the most memorable.

Act I felt long, but Act II flies by and really tugs at the heartstrings.

In addition to Salonga, we also were blown away by Katie Rose Clarke as the nurse with the heart of gold.

There is a lot of pain in Allegiance, but - thankfully - director Stafford Arima does a brilliant job of not making the show too dark and of finding the beauty in the bleak. The way he represents the bombing of Hiroshima is so inspired! His formations and choices are to be strongly lauded.

Fine job by all!


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Perez Reviews: On Your Feet

| Filed under: LatinoliciousBroadway BabiesGloria EstefanPerez Reviews

Perez is a diehard and lifelong Gloria Estefan fan! So the bar was set high for the new Broadway musical, On Your Feet, based on her life and that of her husband, Emilio.

This show not only met our expectations - it exceeded them!

On Your Feet will please the casual Gloria fan and also satisfy her most ardent admirers.

The show was masterfully crafted by Oscar-winning stage and screenwriter Alexander Dinelaris. His script weaves us between Miami and Cuba from the 70s, 60s, 80s and early 90s.

And the story that is told on the stage of the Marquis Theater could not be any more timely!

Yes, of course, the show touches on Gloria's nearly fatal bus accident. But that doesn't even happen until Act 2!

Instead, On Your Feet is a love story and an immigrant tale. It is inspiring and revealing!

There was a lot we did not know before, which shocked us! Notably: it was a surprise to learn that Gloria become estranged from her mother for two years at the height of her success, and that her sister "got in with the wrong crowd" around the same time too.

For a Cuban family to reveal those two things to the public - that's major!

And that's the kind of investment Gloria and Emilio made in this show! They are telling their story and telling its as authentically as possible!

Jerry Mitchell does a great job of adding great production value and making this show fit on Broadway.

And Ana Villafane was destined to play the role of Gloria! She is channeling her fellow Cubana up on that stage!!!

Gloria and Emilio did the orchestrations for Get On Your Feet and the music really shines in this show! It may surprise you how many ballads and midtempo songs are featured - we cried our eyes out - but the show ends with a bang, concert-style. Literally! There's a nearly 6 minute encore medley of uptempo hits to send you off on your way and raving to all your friends about how good On Your Feet is!

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Perez Reviews: Company XIV's Cinderella

| Filed under: Broadway BabiesPerez Reviews

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Company XIV's reimagining of Cinderella is one of the most thrilling theatrical experiences we have seen not just in 2015 but EVER!!!

Austin McCormick, who conceived, choreographed and directed the show, is a creative genius! A true innovator! So inventive!!! And he's outdone himself with this production!

We LOVED Company XIV's Nutcracker Rouge, and Cinderella easily tops that!

Billing itself as a "baroque burlesque ballet", the show is all that and so much more!

We were gasping, gagging and smiling throughout! We were so invested, moved and present! It was a delight of the senses!!! SO MANY senses!

Austin and company poured their heart and soul into this production! And their money! It looks so lavish and lush!

We also were continually surprised throughout this show! This was the first time we had seen McCormick use a three act structure, with "entre acts" in between - and it was such a win! And there were so many unexpected moments that kept happening!

She can do this and that? He can do that too? We didn't see that coming!

The dancing is more than just inspired! It is so fresh!!! Alive!!! Fun! Sexy! Emotional! BRILLIANT!!!

It helps that every single dancer and all the singers are insanely talented!

We could watch Jakob Karr do anything! His technique is on point and his delivery is superb! Plus, he's gorgeous to look at and practically naked the entire show!

And, it made us so happy to see that the phenomenally talented dancer/singer Katrina Cunningham - as the fairy godmother - was used so much more in this production. She was elevated to the superstar status she deserves!

The show is called Cinderella, but it's really all about her!

And Devon Rainey gave us cunty realness, Paris-Is-Burning fierceness as the wicked stepmother!!!!


We can't recommend this show enough!!!!

[Image via Mark Shelby Perry.]

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Perez Reviews: Spring Awakening

| Filed under: Broadway BabiesPerez Reviews

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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'

| Filed under: Broadway BabiesPerez Reviews

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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

| Filed under: Broadway BabiesPerez Reviews

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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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