Emily's Culture Corner
This marks the return of Emily Anne Serviss, our regular backstage reporter,
on the spot at some of the hottest shows on Broadway!
click on the show of your choice:
or visit Emily's Home Page
The Sound of Music
Jekyll & Hyde
Phantom of the Opera
Almost every kid has seen the movie The Sound Of Music, with Julie Andrews as Maria, but now there is another version to see. Broadway recently produced a brand-spanking revival of The Sound Of Music, with Rebecca Luker as Maria. (You older kids might have seen her as Magnolia in Show Boat.)
Rebecca Luker isn't as well-known in the part as Julie Andrews , but she is just as lovable. She has a wonderful bell-like voice which soars through her opening number, you guessed it, "The Sound Of Music." Although at first when Rebecca Luker runs onstage, you long to see Julie Andrews' familiar face, give her a chance, within a matter of seconds you will love this cheerful blonde.
The sets are really amazing, from the inside of the abbey where Maria used to live, the Von-Trapp house, even the curtain, which contains a snow-bally-thing. ( you know them, you shake them upside-down and watch the blizzard inside!) Although Captain Von-Trapp is a little stiff in his acting, you learn to love him. And all of his children are great. They are adorable but very talented as well.
But as you sit in your seat, and listen to the oh-so familiar songs that we all know and love, GASP!! What's this?! What songs are these? It turns out that when the movie version of The Sound Of Music was made, they left out two songs that weren't so popular. So when you hear the songs, "How Can Love Survive?" and "No Way To Stop It" you may cringe, you may cry, but give them a chance. They are kinda catchy when you think about it.
So leave the raindrops, whiskers, kettles and mittens at home and head on over to the Martin Beck Theater to see The Sound Of Music. And yes, you get your very own ticket too.Jekyll & Hyde
Most people know the basic idea of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. If you don't, think of it this way: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is like Two-face from Batman. If you don't know the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I'll explain. Dr. Jekyll is a scientist who wants to help mental patients, so he performs a bunch of tests. The last test he does is on himself, by injecting a mysterious liquid into his arm. And lo and behold, Mr. Hyde is born. Now unlike DR Jekyll, who is kind, sympathetic and a good Samaritan, Mr. Hyde is cruel, evil and a very bad person. Need a reason? Well, for example he kills people. This is one of many reasons of why this is a definite play for older teens. Ages 13 and up. The other reasons are that this play is violent, scary and there are several scenes which include prostitutes. So if you are younger than 13, forget about this play. Go see Beauty & the Beast instead. ( I hear the dancing plates are cool ) But you older teens will love this play.
Jekyll/Hyde is played by the fantastic Robert Cuccioli. Cuccioli brings a lot of emotion and excitement to the role. There is one cool scene where Cuccioli switches off between Jekyll and Hyde continuously during the song, just by flipping his hair about, switching his posture, and changing his voice. When I tell you, it sounds kind of lame, but watching it is incredible.
Everything about these two men are different. Jekyll is neat, polite and brilliant. Hyde is messy, rude, violent and extremely dangerous. They even prefer different types of women. Jekyll has the wealthy, sweet, polite, wholesome Emma, played by Christine Noll. And Hyde prefers the lonely, exotic looking prostitute Lucy, played by Linda Eder.
Although this is a really cool play with amazing special effects, there is
a moral to this play. The basic moral to this play, is that everyone has an
evil side and a good side. These sides are constantly at war, they just
don't become as dramatic as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Now that you are done
learning something, enjoy the show!!
Are you a cat lover? Well, what would you say if you saw a cat singing and dancing? You'd check into a mental hospital, right? Wrong! It just means you've entered the world of CATS, the fabulous Broadway show, one of the longest continuously running shows ever! You go into the theater thinking, "Singing cats? Hah, get real." But when you leave the show you think, "Wow! That was amazing! Why can't I get my cat to sing like that?!"
The set alone is breathtaking and takes over the entire theater. Picture a huge junkyard with a moonlit sky splattered with stars that decorate the ceiling and balcony and you'll get the idea. The stage has a gigantic tire in the middle and there are awesome, oversized garbage props all over.
After a purrfect matinee, I interviewed David Hibbard, who plays Rum Tum Tugger. His character is like a furry Elvis, all the lady cats love him, and in fact, he's in love with himself, too. His singing is very Presley-like and his make-up and costume would do the King proud.
He put his own makeup on while we talked and when he was finished he looked like a feline alien!
How many cats do you have?
None! I have a small apartment and it wouldn't work. Besides, there's enough cats here, don't you think?
When you first got the role, what was your impression of the show?
When I first saw the show I thought I had no chance to do anything. Little did I know!
Can you explain why a crazy show like this has been running for 12 years?
It's got something for everyone. You could see it 10 times and never see the same show twice. We try to make it a little different each time, to keep it fresh and fun for the whole audience.
Is there a message?
I think everyone gets something out of it. It's really about accepting all members of society and respecting those who are different and unpopular. It's also so much fun and uplifting that people bring their kids and friends back over and over!
What would T.S. Eliot say if he saw this show?
(T.S. Eliot is the author of a book of poems CATS was based on.) I think he would be overwhelmed and think it was absolutely amazing! I've been doing this show for two years and I'm still amazed!
For an amazing experience, catch CATS even if you're a dog lover. It's playing at the Winter Garden Theater West 50th St. and Broadway.
WoW! That's the final feeling I had when the curtain fell on the amazing production of, "The Phantom of the Opera." I also felt dazed, amazed and overwhelmed before this incredible show was over.
Phantom is a love story about a deformed man and an aspiring, young opera singer. He teaches her to sing like an angel and falls in love with her in the process. The Phantom does everything he can think of to win her love, including hypnotizing her and showing off his elaborate underworld home.
Unfortunately, Christine isn't impressed (for good reasons I won't give away here) and she is torn between her loyalty to her voice teacher and her love for Raoul. (This show is based on a book by a French author Gaston Leroux, That's why the names are, well... French!)
There are so many cool effects, it's hard to name them all. My favorite involves the stage erupting in flames and when the chandelier crashes. Sounds cool, huh? After a standing ovation, I interviewed Davis Gaines, the Phantom, in a costume room. (The costumes are the most incredible creations I've ever seen!)
How do you relate to what the
phantom is going through?
When I was younger I suffered from asthma and couldn't play a lot outside with the other kids. I got made fun of and was pretty isolated, just like the Phantom. I think everyone can relate to feeling like an outsider, and the Phantom is the ultimate outsider. He's brilliant, but his deformity has caused him to be mocked and pitied. And all he wants is love and compassion, just like the rest of us.
Any funny stories where things went wrong on stage?
One scene, where Christine and I are in a boat, the boat stopped suddenly and went backwards. I acted like it was no big deal, and frantically tried to correct it. That was pretty funny.
Do you have a favorite song?
"Music of the Night."
What is the moral of the story?
That what counts is who you are on the inside, not what you look like on the outside.
Davis had played this role more than 1,000 times and he's so awesome you don't even mind that he ends up killing a few people along the way! Don't miss this show if it comes to your town.Ragtime
During the early 1900's America was going through many changes. The civil war had ended, black people wanted more rights as citizens along with the arrival of thousands of immigrants to the United States. The Broadway show "Ragtime" is a show which tells the story of three families and how their actions affect one another. The show is actually based on a novel written by E.L. Doctorow in 1975.
Hey! No groaning!! This isn't just a musical about history. It's not boring or anything. The music to this new show is wonderful. There are several characters in the show who were real people, such as: Emma Goldman (a radical anarchist/immigrant), Harry Houdini (the magician), Henry Ford (the creator of the assembly line and Model-T ford) and Evelyn Nesbit (a vaudeville actress). But don't worry, they are small parts in the show. The main characters are all made up and have no historical significance. (you can relax now )
The three families are: a rich, white family, a poor black couple and an even poorer immigrant man with his daughter. Throughout the play the three families become friends. The main character is Coalhouse Walker Jr. played by Brian Stokes Mitchell, who is a black pianist who loves the new ragtime music. His love interest is Sarah played by Audra McDonald. Sarah gives birth to Coalhouse's baby boy early in the show. But she runs away because she thinks he doesn't love her anymore. But with the help of the rich white family, they get back together.
"Ragtime" is one of my new favorite shows. I'm actually listening to the CD as I write this review. The show has so many great songs, but a bunch of my favorites are: "Your Daddy's Son", "New Music", "Till We Reach That Day", "Our Children", "Sarah Brown Eyes, "Back To Before", and "Make Them Hear You." (I originally only had three songs, but I kept adding some because I love so many of the songs!!)
The show "Ragtime" has 59 amazingly talented actors in the show who perform the show 8 times a week at the New Ford Center. So get in your brand new model T-Ford and journey on!!