Plays & Theater

    I enjoy the theater and Broadway shows.  My favorite is Miss Saigon.  I saw it in Jones Hall in Houston, TX in the July 1995.  With Kim being played Deedee Lynn Magno and Cristina Paras, and Chris is Matt Bogart, and John is C.C. Brown, and Thom Sesma playing the Engineer.  I personally thought Gigi, being played by Charlene Carabeo, had the best voice and I enjoyed her performance the most.


saigon.jpg (22335 bytes)

jekyll.gif (49806 bytes)

phantom.jpg (9994 bytes)

     A CLOSE second is Jekyll & Hyde.  This play is awesome.   I enjoyed the hell out of this, it's not as depressing as Miss Saigon.  I saw this one at the Alley Theatre in Houston, TX in February 1995.  Robert Cuccioli is Jekyll/Hyde, Linda Eder is Lucy and Christiane Noll is Lisa.  Linda Eder rocks!!!   If you haven't seen this one, make sure you do when she is in it.  Christiane Noll is also very good but is kinda forgot about due the superb job of L.E.

    An old favorite is The Phantom of the Opera.   I saw this one in the Alley in July 1994.  Grant Norman plays the Phantom and Adrienne McEwan plays Christine Daaé and her understudy is Sylvia Rhyne.  This play was very good but I don't think it compares to the two listed above.  During intermission an rather snooty older woman was talking about how this play or musical was the best and nothing could ever top it.  This woman infuriated me, she was an old rich housewife who married into money and thinks this is the best play just because ever else thinks it's great.  I won't deny this show, but Miss Saigon beats it hands down.

    Well anyways, last summer (August 10 1997) I say a mystery loosely based on Inspector Colombo called Sleuth by Anthony Shaffer sponsored by Exxon Summer Chills in Alley Theatre.  The two main actors were James Black and Tim Williams.  This play was great.  It was a very well written story written to an advanced audience, I admit I missed quite a few of the jokes actually some of them only one or two people in the audience caught them.  The point is if your an intelligent person, like if you watch Frasier and enjoy his lifestyle and jokes, go see this performance.

    On March 17 1999, Donny and I saw Jekyll & Hyde in New York City in The Plymouth Theatre.  Joseph Mahowald played Jekyll, Anastasia Barzee playing Emma and Luba Mason playing Lucy.  This was also good but not as good as the first time I saw it.  It could be due to that I had already seen it, or that the different abilities of the cast.

    On July 28 1998 I saw Camelot in Houston.  Robert Goulet played Arthur (duh!), Patricia Kies as Guenevere, Burke Moses as Lancelot, James Valentine as Merlyn/ Pellinore, and Michael Goulet as Mordred.  It was a great show, I'm glad I finally got to see the legendary Bob Goulet.

    I saw Les Misérables at Texas A&M University with the lovely Ms. Amanda Mossburg and Ms. Krista Johnson on March 24 1999.  Wow!  How could I have waited so long to see this amazing show.  I wish now I could have known about it before and flown to London to see the 10th Anniversary Concert at the Royal Albert Hall .  Ivan Rutherford plays Jean Valjean, Todd Alan Johnson as Javert, Joan Almedilla as Fantine, Sutton Foster as Eponine, and Regan Thiel as Cosette.  The 10th Anniversary concert included Colm Wilkinson (Valjean), Michael Ball (Marius), Alun Armstrong (Thenardier). Judy Kuhn (Cosette), Lea Salonga (Eponine), Michael Maguire (Enjolras), Ruthie Henshall (Fantine), and Philip Quast (Javert).

     The King and I at Texas A&M University November 7 1999 with Ms. Amanda Mossburg and Ms. Krista Johnson.  What a great story line, and such an ending.  I have Anna and the Kind on tape with Jodie Foster but haven't watched it yet, I hope it is as good as the musical.  Jill Van Velzer played Anna Leonowens, Taaga J. Young played The King of Siam.

    My family and I saw Noel Coward's Hay Fever in the Alley on March 15 2000.  Michelle Federer playing Sorel Bliss, Crispin Freeman playing Simon Bliss, Lillian Evans playing Clara, Monique Fowler playing Judith Bliss, Paul Vincent playing David Bliss, Sean Dougherty playing Sandy Tyrell, Carol Linnea Johnson playing Myra Arundel, Paul Hope playing Richard Gretham, and Luci Christian playing Jackie Coryton.

    As I am working on this I am listening to Miss Saigon, the original London cast, damn its good.  I saw it for the second time on Broadway at the Broadway Theatre August 15 2000 with friends Donald Carr and Joe Chandler.  With Kim being played Melinda Chua, The Engineer played by Joseph Anthony Foronda, Michael Flanigan is Chris, Charles E. Wallace is John, and damn I missed Charlene Carabeo as Gigi, this time she was played by Natasha Tabandera.  As usual Miss Saigon is great.  My brother was lucky enough to catch it in London is 93 or so.

    Donny and his girlfriend accompanied me to Fosse on Broadway in the Broadhurst August 17 2000.

    My family and I caught Les Misérables in Houston at Jones Hall on October 29 2000.   Ivan Rutherford plays Jean Valjean, Stephen Bishop as Javert, Joan Almedilla as Fantine, Diana Kaarina as Eponine, and Stephanie Waters as Cosette.  Great as usual.

    I saw Footloose with Ms. Amanda Mossburg Texas A&M University November 12 2000.  I had forgotten how many good songs there were in the movie.  I was supposed to see the movie with Amanda but that never happened so I had to rent it on my own to see it.  Ren McCormack was played by Matt Hamel, Ariel Moore is played by Ashley Yeater, Lea P. Cabrera is Rusty, Kimberly Brooke Wharton is Urleen, Kacie Sheik is Wendy Jo, Patrick Kyle is Willard Hewitt.  If you haven't seen the movie in a while, check the credits, I think you'll be surprised who is in the cast.  I really liked this musical.

    And most recently The MouseTrap by Ms. Agatha Christie on December the 16th 2000 at where else, St. Martin's Theatre.  The next time  you are in London, go see it, well worth it.  Major Metcalk is played by Paul Beech, Giles Ralston is played by David Bromley, Mr. Paravicini is played by Ray Charman, Alan Freestone plays Det. Sgt. Trotter, Debra McCulloch plays Mollie Ralston, Nigel Ruffell plays Christopher Wren, Rebecca Topsom is Miss Casewell, and Clare Welch plays as Mrs. Boyle.

    A late update but on Saturday July 20 2002 I saw The Thirteenth Chair by Bayard Veiller with Ms. Erin Buxton.  It was such a great mystery and for an unbeatable price.  Exxon hosts the Summer Chills in Alley Theatre and most tickets are under $20 for front row seats.  A great value for Theatre fans.

    It was so good we went back on Sunday August 11th of 2002 to see And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.  Again a great show and it was very enjoyable.

    Well any Theatre fan has heard of The Producers and my brother saw it in NYC with the original cast and raved about it.  So when we knew it was coming to Houston we bought tickets for it for my us and my mother.  The usual rule of matinee was in effect, the main stars are resting and the understudies are in.  Oh well, the understudy who was playing Leo Boom was Patrick Boyd, Lewis J. Stadlen was Max Bialystock, and Charley Izabella King was Ulla.  I don't know if it was me or the show but I really wasn't into it.  It was a good production and the singing was good but I just didn't enjoy it.  I will watch it again and give it a second chance to find out.

    Well I finally saw Rent.  Yeh me!  It was awesome!  I saw it with R.E. and L. G. at Jones Hall on the 12 of March 2004.  For a younger person who wouldn't mind a different sort of musical its a must see!  I have listened to the original Broadway cast recording many many times over and Rent is a great love story and a message about living each day to its fullest cause it might be your last.  It might be made into a movie right now, and I would suggest seeing the play before you see the movie.  Mimi has always been my favorite character because she reminds me of someone I know or knew... so I was a bit disappointed that Jamie Lee Kirchner wasn't as good as Daphne Rubin-Vega.  And while Roger was good when he was singing the less powerful notes, he was off on the stronger and louder vocals.  I was really surprised by the duet with Maureen and Joanne in Take Me or Leave Me, it was really good.  Ok so lets get to the cast.  Constantine Maroulis was Roger, Brian Gligor was Mark, Marcus Paul James was Tom, Daryl C. Brown was Benny, Rebecca Jones was Joanne, Damien DeShaun Smith was Angel, and Leslie Diamond was Maureen.  The swing was Suzanne Slade, Aswad, Jeannette Bayardelle, Daniel Shevlin, Aaron Tveit, Dan Domenech, and Genny Padilla.  I think my favs. were Leslie and Marcus and Daryl played Benny to a 'T'.

     On Sunday March the 6th I saw Les Misérables again at Sarofim Hall with Lauren Guzick.  The cast was David Michael Felty as Jean Valjean, Robert Hunt as Javert, Tonya Dixon as Fantine, Melissa Lyons as Eponine, Adam Jacobs as Marius, Leslie Henstock as Cosette, Jennifer Butt as Madame Thénardier, and David Benoit as Thénardier.  I've listened to the 10th Anniversary Concert recording MANY times so I compare every subsequent concert to it, unfair as it maybe, so bear that in mind as you read my review.  Felty was the understudy but he did a great job.  He has a very powerful voice, and great range, but a few times he had trouble switching ranges and some of the times he seemed to grunt the words more than sing them.  Robert Hunt was a superb Javert and closely reminded me of Philip Quast.  I feel my review is going to sound like a broken record with regards to the actors voices.  Our Fantine was a little different than usual, she is black.  Like Felty, she has a very powerful voice, but needs some pitch work.  Eponine is probably my favorite character, mainly because Lea Salonga is just flat out amazing and cute to boot ;), but I digress, Miss Lyons does a very good job.  She sounds almost identical to Lea at times, but as the others, needs some refinement.  I also did not like the way she accented the latter part of "pretending."  Adam Jacobs played Marius a bit different, but I liked it.  He is younger than most of the Marius I have seen and you could hear the youth in his voice, pretty fitting I'd say to play Marius.  Leslie Henstock did not make an impression on me, neither good nor bad.  I did some quick google on her and all have been positive reviews of her, so I am going to take the blame on this one.  I really wish I could find some recordings of her to listen too again like many of the others on cafemusian.  Lastly we arrive at the comic relief of the Thénardiers.  When I first saw Jennifer Butt I was like WTF?  We have a skinny Madame, no bloody way.  Sorry, not a fan.  I did some research and saw she started the role on Broadway, wow, what were they thinking?  Benoit did a good job as Mr. Thénardier.  I'm glad they did the bit where he got Cosettes name wrong, I always liked that part.  So let me wrap this up by saying, you have to realize who I am comparing most of the cast too, which is not fair at all, but hey, thats life.  That being said, this is probably the best group of the three I have seen.

    Something Wicked this way comes... and it came to Houston on the on the 26th of October 2006.  Rhett, Lauren, and I attended the performance on the night of November 4th.  Our cast was Stephanie J. Block as Elphaba, Kendra Kassebaum as Glinda, Carol Kane as Madame Morrible, Derrick Williams as Fiyero, Jenna Leigh Green as Nessarose, David Garrison as The Wizard, and Logan Lipton as Boq.  I've been listening to the Original Broadway Cast Recording for almost a year and I've seen a few clips of the original cast on the web and knew the songs pretty good and the performances moderately well.  I must say Stephanie would pass for a clone of Idina, I was blown away by her voice and her acting!  She could go from good to evil in an instant, and when she was evil, she sounded just like the Wicked Witch from the "The Wizard of Oz" movie.  Oh, how cool would it to have seen Idina and Taye in Wicked playing Elphaba and Fiyero!  The part of Glinda is of a super bubbly blonde with a little Valley Girl mixed in.  I think the part was written for Kristin Chenoweth.  She is a 4'11" cute blonde who loves to wear pink, I'm not sure anyone else can play it as well as her.  Kendra has a good voice and sang wonderfully, but I just didn't get the feeling that she was Glinda.  More like, she was acting as Glinda, while Kristin IS Glinda.  I'm probably going to get a lot of hate mail and Brit will hit me, but Carol Kane just didn't do anything for me, not good nor bad.  Maybe its the part of Madame Morrible, but its been over two weeks and I just don't remember much about her performance.  Same kinda goes for Nessarose (cool name though), I remember thinking at the time that Jenna Leigh Green had a good voice and all, but it didn't stand out too much for me.  I liked Logan Lipton's performance as Boq.  I know he didn't have a huge role, but it was an important part of the plot and the origin of a big character in the movie.  The role of Fiyero is very important as he plays the love interest of Elphaba and the desire of Glinda.  I thought Derrick Williams was a great actor, and he has a good voice, but I don't think his singing style is right for the part.  His facial expression were really good, shock when the part called for it, hurt, excitement, anger, etc. but just something about the way he sang I didn't like.  He had the right power, and pitch, but I don't know, just something.  I bet you will see him on TV/Movies soon.  And finally the Wizard, I liked his performance; he could sing and act and played the part well.  My friend Brit didn't.  Overall it was a great show and I'm glad I finally got to see it.  With the success of Chicago the movie, and if Rent does well as a movie, oh and The Producers the movie, I bet we see Wicked in a movie soon.

    My brother missed Wicked the first time and when word came that it was coming back to Houston he decided it would be a good birthday gift for our mother and his chance to see it; no arguments from me.  We saw it on Wednesday the 28th 2007 and our cast was completely different this time,  Victoria Matlock as Elphaba, Christina DeCicco as Glinda, Barbara Tirrell as Madame Morrible, Cliffton Hall as Fiyero, Deedee Magno Hall as Nessarose, P.J. Benjamin as The Wizard, and Josh Lamon as Boq.  Little side note, I had seen Deedee Lynn before in Miss Saigon back in '95 and the standby for Elphaba is Coleen Sexton.  Ever since I saw it last, I really haven't listened to the soundtrack much, so I forgot much of the details which was kinda cool.  Sorta like seeing it for the first time.  I think they changed up a few of the details, but nothing too important.  Well, they really didn't need to remind the audience that Elphaba's mother was drinking the green elixir, come-on, the type of audiences that go to see a Broadway show are usually above average intelligence, not Oprah fans.  Anyways, I didn't remember the prior Glinda to being quite as blonde as DeCicco, but she did the bubbly blonde pretty damn well.  Matlock portrayed Elphaba pretty well also, she had the evil laugh down pretty good.  They both have good voices, but I feel they need more practice in transitioning from highs to lows and talking to singing.  Like I said above, I had seen Deedee Lynn before and she has just as a great voice as I remembered and her husband did a good job at Fiyero.  Wicked is just one of those fun musicals that you never get tired of seeing.  I'm glad I saw it again and would recommend it to anyone.

Great page for information, Playbill