Drama Talk & Drinks: Disruption – “you go girl”

A few years ago DT&D interviewed AJ Baker, Artistic Director and Resident Playwright for Three Girls Theatre company (3GT). Despite loving her, and loving the concept behind 3GT (they only produce plays written by female playwrights), it’s been a while since we had seen a 3GT show. So when we heard that AJ’s latest play Disruption was premiering at Z-Below, we knew we had to see it.  So out we went for a ladies night of drama talk and drinks.

 

Sally Dana as Dr. Andrea (Andy) Powell in Disruption at Z Below; Photo by Mario Parnell

Sally Dana as Dr. Andrea (Andy) Powell in Disruption at Z Below; Photo by Mario Parnell

Katie: Wow, I’m happy about how the story ended, but feel some whiplash from how quickly the problem was resolved. It seemed like a very complicated legal matter.

Brittany: Yeah, it was really stressful for most of the show and then it just wasn’t. For a script that at times felt like it was fairly slow moving, it wrapped up very fast. I enjoyed it, even though it was a lot of talk and not much action. I was engaged.

K: There were a lot of good things about this show, but the lack of “action” took me out of it sometimes. The blocking felt unnatural, it was like the actors didn’t have anywhere to move. There were moments when I felt overwhelmed by the dialogue too. Also the connection to the #MeToo movement was a little muddled for me. Given the focus of the promos I thought it was going to go deeper into talking about that movement, whereas it felt more like a side note.

B: That’s true, but I still left with a “you go girl” feeling, so it captured some of the ethos even if it didn’t feel like it spoke directly to the #MeToo moment. I like 3 Girls Theatre, and that they produce plays by women with strong female characters. Disruption was clearly written from a woman’s perspective, and it was interesting to see such authentic female characters. All their reactions, and guilt, and anxieties felt genuine.

K: I agree, I felt like a fly on the wall in a real office and there was something cool about that. I think overall it was authentic and it’s female forwardness was refreshing.

The Verdict: While there’s still some new-play clunkiness to the script and the staging, it’s a compelling story that portrays some very authentic strong female characters. We think it’s worth checking out.

The Drama Talk: It’s refreshing to see a show focused on strong female characters dealing with the kinds of challenges and emotions professional women confront in their lives. While the effort to shoehorn in current events like the #MeToo movement at times feels forced, Disruption still covers some important topics such as the ramifications of sexual harassment, gender bias, and the pressure professional women feel when they try to “have-it-all”. The script at times was a bit wordy, and the staging a bit stiff, however the compelling and authentic portrayals of women kept the show engaging.

The Drinks: After this show we felt pretty empowered so we wanted to go to a cocktail bar with powerful drinks and a high powered atmosphere. We checked our True Laurel and it was both of those things along with some delicious small plates.

Disruption runs through April 28th at Z Below. Tickets range from $35-$55 and can be purchased through their website. Right now there are tickets available on Goldstar from comp-$27.50.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Timon of Athens – “smoking a crack-pipe”

Despite being fancy theater critics, neither of us had ever seen Shakespeare’s Timon of Athens.  So when we heard that  The Cutting Ball Theater was doing a production of “one of Shakespeare’s neglected classics, featuring some of the Bard’s more experimental verse paired with some of his best poetry” we knew we had to see it. So off we headed to the TL for a night of Drama Talk & Drinks.

Photo by Rob Melrose.

Photo by Rob Melrose.

Brittany: I don’t know Timon of Athens well, so it was fun to see it performed. There were some really amazing monologues and great Shakespeare insults in there. I thought the actor who played Timon (Brennan Pickman-Thoon) was really impressive. I also enjoyed Apemantus (David Sinaiko) and Flavius (Courtney Walsh), they both had such a strong command of the language.

Katie: When any of the other actors were talking though, they might as-well have been speaking gibberish. Watching a Shakespeare play sometimes feels like watching a play in another language to me, I have to focus so hard to follow along. When actors don’t have command of the language it’s difficult to stay engaged.

B: Totally, if it weren’t for the strong Timon, that would have been a total snoozefest.  Maybe it’s because the ensemble was playing so many parts, but at times it felt like they were just doing caricatures. They didn’t seem get into the language enough to fully develop their characters.  The whole armed insurrection sub-plot was kind of overshadowed by the Timon drama. Then some directorial choices I didn’t fully understand, like the overly sexual guards or some of the weird dance party bits, but I think it’s partially because of an unbalanced cast.

K: The actor (Doug Nolan)  who played the punk-rock dude and the senator drove me crazy. I hate inconsistent accents, and when he was trying to do the southern accent it kept going in and out, and he couldn’t keep up the rocker thing he was trying to do either!

B: The second he started losing his accent I was like “Katie’s going to be so pissed!”.

K: I was! Onto things I liked though, often when Shakespeare plays are set modern times it doesn’t work for me, but this concept worked for me. It added to the story.

B: Yeah, seeing Timon smoking a crack pipe on the street in a homeless tent added context to my reading of the show. The shift he made from being a super rich tech titan who throws Burning-Man-Like parties to being out on the street homeless definitely made an impression.

K: If you love Shakespeare, and want to see a less often performed Shakespeare play this isn’t a bad production. For me, unless I’m seeing all incredible actors I don’t find watching Shakespeare particularly enjoyable.

B: If you like Shakespeare, the guy who played Timon was great, and there’s some great Shakespearean insults that made me giggle. However, it was a very uneven cast and not the best show we have ever seen from Cutting Ball. Good, but not great.

The Verdict: If you’re a Shakespeare fan you will probably like it, otherwise maybe sit this one out.

The Drama Talk: Cutting Ball’s production of Timon of Athens has many things we always love about Cutting Ball shows; inventive staging in a small space, some very strong actors, impressive costumes, and a fresh contemporary feel. However, Shakespeare needs actors to really own the language, and not everyone in this cast was up to the task.

The Drinks: In honor of the extravagant lifestyle Timon led we thought we would go to a fancy place to get drinks. We hit up Market street’s newest a rooftop bar (fancy right?) called Charmaines. We probably aren’t swanky enough for it’s swanky atmosphere, and the drinks were not cheap, but it was a fun place to end a night of theater.

Timon of Athens runs through April 29th at Exit on Taylor. Tickets are between $35-$50 and can be purchased on the Cutting Ball Theater website.

 

Drama Talk & Drinks: Saturday Night – “Such a dick”

We’re always up for a Saturday night of musical theater. When we heard local theater company, 42nd Street Moon, was putting on a Stephen Sondheim musical we hadn’t heard of before, called Saturday Night, we decided to check it out for Drama Talk & Drinks.

The Company of Saturday Night. Photo by Ben Krantz Studio

The Company of Saturday Night. Photo by Ben Krantz Studio

Brittany: I just don’t think Saturday Night is a show that necessarily needs to be done again. I like 42nd Street Moon, and appreciate that they are trying to preserve these lesser known shows from the American musical theater canon, but…

Katie: There’s a reason why some of those shows are lesser know and don’t get produced. They just aren’t good.

B: Exactly! I love Stephen Sondheim and I was surprised that he wrote something this mediocre.

K: So mediocre. If they weren’t so earnest I’d have thought it was a parody making fun of how lame musicals can be.

B: I almost started laughing at the finale when the cops started singing along too. I thought “oh my god, is this a joke”. They had a cool set and good costumes, but you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig. Not a good show.

K: The story was terrible. I didn’t care about anyone. I mean, the lead character, Gene, was such an asshole.

B: He was such a dick! Why would anyone feel bad for him? He does so many shitty things and virtually shows no remorse. Yet, for some reason all his friends are behind bailing him out because he’s dapper. Gross white male privilege on display.

K: I just don’t get it. The story was terrible.

Verdict: This was a fine production by 42nd Street Moon, it’s just a terrible play. This is one to skip.

The Drama Talk: If you’re also fed up with entitled whiny white men, who feel like they should be allowed to do anything to get what they feel is owed to them, then you too will agree that this is a show that’s better left to be forgotten. While 42nd Street Moon has a noble mission to “celebrate and preserve the art and spirit of the American Musical Theatre” there are some musicals that aren’t worth being celebrated or preserved. The cast of Saturday Night did their best with a dud of a show. As always 42nd Street Moon had impressive production values and held true to a traditional interpretation of a classic musical. However their true-to-the-script interpretation left us with a fairly well done production of a bad show. Not a worthwhile use of a Saturday night.

The Drinks: We needed a strong drink after seeing this show, so we hit up The Barrel Room a few blocks away. Luckily we weren’t disappointed by the cocktails.

Saturday Night runs through April 15th at the Gateway Theater. Tickets are available through the 42nd Street Moon website and are priced $25-$75. There are also some $22 tickets available via Goldstar.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Reel to Reel – “I was even a little heartbroken at the end”

It’s been quite a while since we’ve made the trek to Fort Mason to see a show at Magic Theatre. When we got notice about the world premiere of John Kolvenbach’s new play Reel to Reel “the story of a fifty-five-year marriage as told through the mundane sentiments of recorded conversations, arguments, and household noises” we were intrigued, so we headed to the Marina for a night of drama talk and drinks.

Andrew Pastides as Walter and Zoë Winters as Maggie. Photo by Julie Haber

Andrew Pastides as Walter and Zoë Winters as Maggie. Photo by Julie Haber

K: I really loved it. I don’t know if it’s partially because I’m about to get married, so this look at what happens when two people build a life together felt particularly poignant, but it definitely struck a chord. Both in the way it explored the idea of how no one can truly understand someone else’s relationship, but also in touching on the scary idea of what happens when you lose the person with whom you’ve built your life.

B: It was a really heartwarming show. In the final monologue the older Walter (Will Marchetti) talks about these mundane moments which are what made their life together so beautiful, and that’s really what this play is about. These precious innocuous details of everyday life that make up a relationship.

K: They did a beautiful job developing the relationship between the two characters.  I felt very invested. I was almost on the edge of my seat, which is weird since in so many ways it’s a very simple show. It speaks to how well it was written and acted. I was just intrigued.

B: I feel exactly the same way.  If you told me what this play was about – we get to watch the lives of two people with a relatively normal life grow in their relationship over a fifty five year period – I would think it is going to be a fairly dull play. But it wasn’t at all.

K: The humanness of story was so interesting. It was also really well cast. The younger and older version of each character looked like they could be the same person. They also did a good job having consistent physicality and mannerisms. Everyone created such deep characters that they were able to make simple interactions complex. It was interesting, endearing, sad and funny. I was even a little heartbroken at the end.

B: I got teary eyed too. I also appreciated that they did a lot of interesting technical things for such a simple play. The way they used recordings and did live foley effects on stage while playing multiple characters was innovative without being in your face.  Getting to see all those tiny pieces of their life together, and the way they amplified them by amplifying the various sounds of their relationship, made it a really rich story.

The Verdict: Go see it! It would be a perfect Valentine’s date if you’re into kind of thing. Either way it’s generally a very well acted and heartwarming show about love and relationships.

The Drama Talk: It’s always fun when theater pushes you to take particular notice of a sense. John Kolvenbach’s Reel to Reel asks audiences to reflect on simple sounds, and in doing so creates a rich auditory experience that pulls viewers into a more intimate understanding of the life and relationship of Walter and Maggie. Each character is played by two actors who help the story jump around fifty five years of moments in their relationship. While the love story itself isn’t remarkable, it’s the simplicity of the story and the sounds in it that makes this play so poignant.  The cast does a great job creating detailed and intimate characters that draw you into the scene. This combined with the creative use of recordings, live foley effects, and a quick script make for a light and refreshing night at the theatre.

The Drinks: After the show we headed to one of our favorite bars in the city, that also just happens to be at Fort Mason, The Interval to chat about the show. We ordered drinks that were both classic and complex (Brittany got the Improved Calvados Cocktail and Katie got the Hacker Club – we can recommend both) and we toasted to love, sound, and a fun night of drama talk and drinks.

Reel to Reel runs through February 25th at the Magic Theater on Tuesday – Sunday nights. Tickets available through Magic’s website range from $30-$75. There are also some tickets available at the moment through Goldstar starting at $20.

Drama Talk & Drinks: In Event of Moon Disaster “If you want to get to heaven, get out of this world.”

We heard murmurs of a theater company with a kinda funny name, Mugwumpin, doing something pretty cool at Z-Space in Potrero Flats. An immersive theater piece, In Event of Moon Disaster that took audiences to space. We were intrigued. Since Katie was double booked, Brittany took frequent guest reviewer Sam out for a night of Drama Talk & Drinks.

From left, Stephanie DeMott, Isa Musni and Soren Santos. Photo by Battista Remati (1)

From left, Stephanie DeMott, Isa Musni and Soren Santos. Photo by Battista Remati 

Brittany: So what did you think?

Sam: ”If you want to get to heaven, get out of this world.”

B: I don’t know exactly what happened in that play, but it was very cool looking.

S: I mean they made it clear what happened.

B: The people got lost on the moon.

S: Happens to everyone. It’ll happen to you.

B: I don’t know if I walked away with whatever I was supposed to walk away with, but I did find it visually impressive.

S: I loved it. I thought it was riveting the whole way through. I found myself wanted to prolong the scenes because they were so vivid.

B: It moved very quickly between the different scenes and which I thought kept it engaging. There was always some sort of visual stimulation or song or movement that you wanted to watch. I found myself trying to listen very hard, but I was never really sure what they were trying to communicate. It felt more like a dance or poetry piece than a narrative play. There was a story to it, in that there was a beginning, middle, and end, but it was much more of an experience than a play.

S: Well the movement was very poetic. The moon especially had a rhythm to her. With the 360° projections you felt like you were in the orbit of the moon, and part of this celestial dance that they’re performing.

B: Do you think other people would enjoy it?

S: Absolutely! If I were other people, I would pre-game with Stereolab and post-game with Gorillaz. Something a little post-apocalyptic. You’ll come out with an understanding of the deeper resonance—the harmonics—that are coming from the moon and the stars and in, and out, and around.

B: This review basically summarized what the show was like. It’s poetic and somewhat hard to parse.

The Verdict: A very visually cool and engaging experience. Go see it before it’s gone.

The Drama Talk: It’s always fun to see theater that defies description, which is very much the case with In Event of Moon Disaster. This lack of adherence to form is very intentional, refreshing, and part of what make Mugwumpin such a unique and innovative company. It’s a technically impressive show, and very cool to see Z-Below reconfigured and reimagined. They did a great job making the show interactive without being awkward. While we’re not sure we got 100% of what we were supposed to as far as the message, we still really enjoyed ourselves.

The Drinks: There’s something about being in outer-space for an hour that makes you want to get back to the familiar, so we headed over to Docs Clock after the show and toasted to the moon.

In Event of Moon Disaster runs through January 28th at Z-Below  with shows Wednesday-Sunday nights. Tickets are available via the Z-Space website and are $35. A lot of the remaining shows are already SOLD OUT so get over there fast if you want to snag one of the remaining tickets.

Drama Talk & Drinks: The Secret Garden “Grief and some ghosts’

The holidays make us nostalgic for childhood. So when we saw that 42nd Street Moon was doing a production of The Secret Garden, we thought what better way to spend a fun holiday night out? After-all, what’s more Christmassy than reclusive uncles, invalid children, and ghosts? So we headed down to the Financial District for some drama talk and drinks.

(L to R) Katie Maupin as Mary Lennox, Sharon Rietkerk as Lily, and Brian Watson as Archibald Craven, photo by Ben Krantz Studios

Brittany: I’m always impressed by the voices of Inflatable water slide for sale Canada the casts in 42nd Street Moon productions. The Secret Garden needs awesome voices. The music is tricky, and really, the pretty songs are most of what this show has going for it. They had the great voices things covered. I also liked the costumes and set. But, while I enjoyed listening to the pretty voices, it’s kind of a weird show.

Katie: The actress who played Lily (Sharon Rietkerk), holy shit, she was incredible. Pretty much spot on to the Broadway recording I listened-to on repeat when I was like 10. Also, the little girl who played Mary (Katie Maupin) killed it. She had the perfect look and voice for that part. Such good casting. Now that I have finally seen this live for the first time, I’ve realized it’s kind of a sleepy musical. Some of the songs are sooo long, and then they reprise them! I would have cut it down a bit. It was a good production though. I liked their use of projections.

B: Overall it was very well done. It’s just a hard play. There isn’t really much conflict to drive the story. I guess there’s the tension between Dr. Uncle who doesn’t think Colin should get out of bed vs. Mary who wants to take him out to the garden. Otherwise it’s just a show about grief and some ghosts. I still enjoyed it, and got misty eyed at the happy ending. It’s not my favorite musical, but 42nd Street Moon did very good production.

K: I feel a young person would like this…it’s just long. If you love the Secret Garden you will like this.

B: If you like the story of the Secret Garden, it’s fun to see it on stage. I feel like this would be a great show to see with your grandparents or the children in your life. It was sweet and entertaining classic childhood story.

The Verdict: Want to see a sweet and classic childhood story told onstage? Love the story of The Secret Garden? Like musicals with pretty songs and singing? Then you’ll probably want to see this show.

The Drama Talk: 42nd Street Moon is decidedly not edgy, but in a way that’s what this company has going for it. They do really lovely and faithful stagings of classic musicals. Their latest production, The Secret Garden, is about as good as this play gets. It was very well cast, well sung, and beautifully rendered on the small Gateway Theater stage. While it’s not a groundbreaking show, it’s a cozy classic that gives you a warm fuzzy ending. Sometimes that’s all you want at the holidays.

The Drinks: After watching a musical that’s set long long ago, it felt appropriate to go to a bar with a theatrical old school feel. Luckily just a few blocks away on Columbus there was the Comstock Saloon. It has that very old timey decor, classic cocktails and all the servers are in black bowties. It definitely adds to the night out feel.

The Secret Garden plays through December 24th at the Gateway Theatre. Tickets range are $15-$55 and can be purchased on their website. Right now there are tickets available on Goldstar.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Bright Star – “We expected more from you Steve, but we still love you.’”

The Curran’s first year of being open after a major renovation is coming to a close, and what a year it has been. The shows we saw at the Curran were some of our very favorites of the entire season, so we were so excited to see their last show of the year Bright Star, a musical written and composed by Steve Martin and Edie Brickell. Unfortunately, Brittany had a last minute work commitment come up, so luckily my Brittany replacement, Garrett, was available and more than willing to join me for some Drama Talk and Drinks.

Photo by Craig Schwartz.

Garrett: Going into the show not knowing what it was about, maybe wasn’t the best idea because it took me a little bit to get into the story, which made it start off slow and at some points I was confused about what decade we were in. As far as the story, the emotion and music, the second act was better than the first act for me. I think the highlight was the style of music, I loved the old americana and bluegrassy type of stuff. The songs weren’t very memorable, but they were good enough to carry it.

Katie: For me I just didn’t care too much about what was happening until the end of the first act. I didn’t care much for the story in general, it kind of fell flat. The highlight was the lead actress Carmen Cusack. What a voice and what presence. I never wanted her to leave the stage…but she did, and too much in my opinion. She was outstanding, the show however, was just good.

G: Knowing that Steve Martin co-wrote this I expected more wit and a little more comedy and creativity as far as the story and lyrics. I think what they were trying to do was create a story about the American South, and a little slice of life but they didn’t quite pull that off.

K: Yes! I can’t quite put my finger on it, but I was underwhelmed. The elements of this musical from the side stories, to the going back and forth in time, to the large dancing ensemble who were awkwardly integrated into scenes, just didn’t quite harmonize. Definitely nothing groundbreaking to see here and frankly we expected more from you, Steve Martin.

G: It’s true, we expected more from you Steve, but we still love you.

The Verdict: Go to see Tony nominated actress Carmen Cusack sing the hell out Steve Martin’s songs. If you like the bluegrass style of music and melodrama then this is going to be a toe-taping, tear jerking good time.

The Drama Talk: We knew Steve Martin had a bluegrass musical side, which comes through beautifully in this show, but his thought provoking, witty and moving writing style doesn’t. Where this show shines is in its extremely likable lead character, Alice Murphy (Carmen Cusack), as well as the set and costume design. The rotating shack that housed the bluegrass band was well done and whimsical, where the costumes really took you back to the 20’s and 40’s. Overall this musical is an enjoyable and entertaining experience.

The Drinks: Since this was about a time where a lot of things were forbidden going to an unmarked somewhat secret bar seemed appropriate. Good think less than a block away from the theater there is Benjamin Cooper that has that speakeasy feel and great cocktails.

Bright Star plays through December 17th at the Curran. Tickets range are $39-$145 and can be purchased on their website. Right now there are tickets available on Goldstar.

 

Drama Talk & Drinks: Totes Blessed – “we’re kinda ‘basic bitches’”

It’s good to to be able to laugh at ourselves, especially our #bestlife Instagram personas. Which is what drew us to Totes Blessed the new sketch show by Chardonnay Comedy now playing at PianoFight. The show promised  ”a safe space to unpack what being basic even means” which sounded like a pretty hilarious way to spend a night of Drama Talk and Drinks.

Totes Blessed

Brittany: That was so fun. It’s sketch, so not every bit was a winner, but generally I had a great time.

Katie: I was genuinely entertained. I would have loved a little more diversity in the ladies in the group. I felt like they were making fun of a very white privileged lifestyle. The message of the show was also a little unclear. The first quarter they make fun of being a “basic bitch” and then they say it’s okay to be “basic” because we should empower women to be themselves and not judge them for loving the things the love, like brunch. Then they made fun of being basic some more.

B: Part of me feels like they were just acknowledging the fact that yeah, we’re kinda “basic bitches” and we recognize that. We like “basic bitch” things like pumpkin spice everything, and juice cleanses, and group colonics, and posting inspirational quotes on social media. We know it’s ridiculous, but that’s still just us. I agree it was a mixed message, but I think that’s okay. It’s not a super feminist piece or a very deep show, but it’s still a lot of fun. It’s not going to change the world or the environment…oh that poor polar bear.

K: When it got shot it was really funny though. Also that LA yoga-girl podcast sketch was amazing. I feel like that one also did a good job calling out their whiteness.

B: Yeah, that was hilarious. I also liked the Ivanka and Melania Trump Thanksgiving skit, and the Tilden Swinton on Sesame Street sketch was the funniest thing I’ve seen in a long time.

The Verdict: Great for a ladies night out. If you are a white women between the ages of 25-35 you will for sure enjoy this show. Generally if you’re in your 20s or 30s and living in SF you’ll probably think this is pretty funny.

The Drama Talk: The Chardonnay Comedy troupe is a filled with a bunch of very funny Bay Area 20/30 something women, and that is the experience that this show draws from. As Bay Area 30 something cis-women ourselves, we thought it was pretty hilarious, as did our dates (two white Bay Area 30 something cis-men). We don’t think our grandparents would find this show very funny, since they wouldn’t get the references, but that’s part of what makes this show so fun. It holds up a carnival mirror to our culture, and forces us to laugh at ourselves.

The Drinks: PianoFight is awesome because it also has a restaurant and bar, so we got dinner and drinks before the show there (they have a special “Basic Bitch” cocktail on the menu to get you in the mood). While we usually stay and debrief at the PianoFight bar, this time we decided to check out a newer bar on the same block called Biig for our post-show drinks. This is a bar with no menu, limited seating, and music at a volume level that encourages intimate meaningful conversation. It’s very adult, very posh and we loved it.

Chardonnay Comedy’s Totes Blessed runs Friday and Saturday nights through November 18th at PianoFight. Tickets are available through Eventbrite and range from $15-$40.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Disney’s Aladdin – “All flash and no substance.”

A Disney caravan rolled into town this week, with the opening of the Broadway tour of Aladdin at SHN’s Orpheum Theater. It’s a favorite childhood movie for both of your DT&D columnists, so we decided to check it out.

Photo Credit: Deen van Meer  Adam Jacobs (Aladdin) and Anthony Murphy (Genie). Disney's Aladdin North American Tour Original Cast. ©Disney.

Adam Jacobs (Aladdin) and Anthony Murphy (Genie). Disney’s Aladdin North American Tour Original Cast. ©Disney. Photo Credit: Deen van Meer 

Brittany: It was so shiny and flashy. I guess it’s Disney, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but it had such amazingly high production values. The costumes were gorgeous and there were hundreds of them and the sets were crazy. I mean, fireworks happened on stage multiple times, and they actually rode a flying carpet, that’s nuts.

Katie: Totally, but for me, that’s all this show had going for it. I’m a huge Aladdin fan, and I just don’t think it translated to the stage. It was just super cheesy.  I get that they had to make changes to make it work as a musical, but all the changes were lame. I had hoped they would add value in their re-imagining of the movie for the stage, but they just added a bunch of terrible filler songs. Super disappointing.

B: Agreed the filler songs weren’t great. I also was disappointed that they got rid of the animal sidekicks and added in a bunch of one-dimensional annoying friends for Aladdin and Jasmine instead. In the movie Aladdin and Jasmine don’t have any friends (who are people), which is part of what drives the story.  Given how good they are at spectacle, and how well Disney has done animals on stage for shows like the Lion King, it’s strange they didn’t make some super creative costumes that allowed the play to keep those characters. I wanted Abu and Rajah!

K: This show was just disappointing. The adaptation was lackluster and none of the actors blew me away. Jafar wasn’t scary, Aladdin was too self-confident to be endearing, and I thought all the new characters they added were dumb.

B: The songs “Never Had A Friend Like me” and “Prince Ali”  were damn impressive, and met my expectations in terms of generating wide-eyed excitement, but you’re right, all this show had going for it is spectacle. Big show-stopping numbers with impressive tech.

K: It felt like a money grab to me. All flash and no substance.

The Verdict: This show could be a fun way to introduce a kid to theater since it’s so technically impressive, and they probably won’t mind the lack of depth. But if you are an Aladdin fan we recommend staying in and just re-watching the movie.

The Drama Talk: Aladdin is a valuable Disney francise, and this show is just another way for producers to cash-in on the brand. If all you want is to see some gorgeous costumes, cinematically beautiful sets, and a few big song and dance numbers than you may like this. For us, it fell short of the movie. Jafar wasn’t nearly as scary, Aladdin wasn’t nearly as deep, and Jasmine didn’t feel as strong. It feels like this production is really made for kids who care more about spectacle than storyline.

The Drinks: We’ve been to the Orpheum enough times that we now have official SHN cups that we bring to the theater with us. These cups, which you can also purchase with your drink order, allow you to bring drinks into the theatre to enjoy during the show. This Aladdin is definitely a spectacle better appreciated with some bubbly.

Aladdin runs through January 7th at the Orpheum Theater. Tickets are available on their website for $45-$200. There are $40 in-person rush tickets available.  Goldstar also currently has tickets for $55-$75.

Drama Talk & Drinks: Ain’t Misbehavin’ – “trying to do things the old-school way”

Sometimes when things are feeling bleak, and it smells like the world is burning down around you, it’s nice to escape into something light, fun, and maybe a little mindless. While cat videos are always an option, you can feel more sophisticated (and support the local arts scene) by going out and seeing a musical. That’s what we did last weekend when went out for drama talk and drinks and the opening of Ain’t Misbehavin’ the latest production of 42nd Street Moon.

The Cast of AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ (L to R): Arís-Allen Roberson, Katrina Lauren McGraw, Erica Richardson, Ashley D. Gallo, and Branden ‘Noel’ Thomas. Photo by Ben Krantz Studios

The Cast of AIN’T MISBEHAVIN’ (L to R): Arís-Allen Roberson, Katrina Lauren McGraw, Erica Richardson, Ashley D. Gallo, and Branden ‘Noel’ Thomas. Photo by Ben Krantz Studios

Brittany: What a fun classic American musical.

Katie: Those actors were incredible! They all had amazing voices and such stage presence. I just wish they used microphones. The band was great, but there were moments I couldn’t hear the singers, and that was distracting.

B: 42nd Street Moon is trying to do things the old-school way, so they aren’t using microphones on purpose, but that was probably my biggest complaint too. I like what the company is trying to do though, honest rivals of these classic shows. I think it was very successful in that.

K: I totally agree, the costumes, the staging, and the choreography all felt very authentic. I feel like this show would be more fun in a different space though. This is a much more traditional theater atmosphere, but this felt like more of a cabaret show. It was a little long to just sit and watch with no plot or story. I think more of a cabaret atmosphere would have suited the show better. I still enjoyed it though, especially some of the songs in the second act.

B: This show is hard for a modern audience, because you are just sitting and watching a series of song and dance numbers. Really well done song and dance numbers, but that’s it. I guess we’re just spoiled with shows like Speakeasy, where there’s a cabaret going on, but you can also walk around, have drinks, play casino games, and then come back to hear more song and dance.

K: Overall, I think it was a well done production. I liked the set, the lighting, and costumes. I felt like I was watching a show  in the 1930’s. It felt very lively, moody and cool.

The Verdict: If you love jazzy music from the 1920s and 30s, this is the perfect show for you.

The Drama Talk: They don’t really make shows like Ain’t Misbehavin’ any more. This musical revue was created as a tribute to the black musicians of the 1920s and 1930s who were part of the Harlem Renaissance. If you like jazzy, swing music, you’ll probably really enjoy this show. The second act had some of our favorite moments of the show, including a dope song and dance about a five foot joint “The Viper’s Drag” and a beautiful rendition of “Black and Blue”. Like many things that were written a while ago, there were some cringe-worthy moments of sexism, as well as some awkward-to-watch bits of pandering to racist stereotypes. However, overall, 42nd Street Moon creates an engaging, enjoyable and authentic revival of this classic show.

The Drinks: Saturday shows are at 6pm so we ended up getting dinner and drinks after the show a couple blocks away on Columbus Avenue at Doc Ricketts. If you want to see a show after the show, check out Doc’s Lab, which is the venue underneath Doc Ricketts.

Ain’t Misbehavin’ runs through October 29th at the Gateway Theatre. Tickets range from $30-$75 and are available on their website. Right now there are tickets available on Goldstar for $22.50-$25.

Brittany Janis & Katie Cruz

Posts: 97

Twitter: @brittanymorgan

Biographical Info:

Brittany and Katie are theater lovers with a drinking habit. We love nothing more than seeing shows and telling you what we think about them over drinks. We both studied this stuff (woohoo theatre majors), so we have some idea what we're talking about, but most of all, we want to be brutally honest so you know when we tell you to go see a show, you really really should go see it. Seriously, turn off Netflix and go see some live entertainment!