Tag Archives: Sara Bareilles

Nr 460: The SpongeBob Musical (2016)

6 Jan

Chicago: 2016
Broadway: 2017 (327 perf.)
Tv version: 2019

Book: Kyle Jarrow, based on SpongeBob SquarePants by Stephen Hillenburg
Music & Lyrics: David Bowie, Brian Eno, Panic at the Disco, Tom Kitt, Jonathan Coulton, Cyndi Lauper, Rob Hyman, Alex Ebert, Sara Bareilles, Andy Paley, Tom Kenny, Lady Antebellum, Yolanda Adams, The Flaming Lips, John Legend, Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, Plain White T’s, T.I., They Might Be Giants

Just so you know, if you’re not a SpongeBob fan, it all takes place underwater.
The story: SpongeBob, a relentlessly cheery fast-food worker with self-esteem issues, learns that his beloved Bikini Bottom is in danger of being destroyed by an undersea volcano called Mount Humongous that’s threatening to blow sky-high. So he, his BFF Patrick Star, a starfish, and the brilliant scientist Sandy Cheeks, a squirrel (don’t ask), must come up with a plan to save their world.
Among the obstacles on the path to hero-hood: xenophobic prejudice (Sandy is disdained as a mammal), the bureaucratic paralysis of the mayor, panic-rousing media coverage and the villainous obstructions of the evil Sheldon Plankton and his wife, Karen the Computer.

I actually thought I was going to hate this musical. I mean come on, SpongeBob the Musical???? And because the cast album contained songs by a lot of different pop composers I also thought this was something of a juke box musical.
But, boy, was I wrong!
Nickleodeon, the cable channel for kids where SpongBob the animated series airs, brought a live version of the Broadway show to our home screens.
Lucky us! For this is an absolute marvel of a show. Just 5 minutes in and I was hooked. The music is so good, the sets and costumes are amazing, the cast is perfect down to the smallest planktons and sardines and the choreography is utterly brilliant. I was totally enthralled.
The show is totally bonkers – in a very good way. Don’t let adult thoughts of ”that isn’t even logic” or ”this is so unrealistic” disturb you from enjoying this show. Indulge yourself in the madness and pleasures of Bikini Bottom (just that name, aargh, love it, and yes they make fun of it in the show). Do what I did: I just sat in my recliner and laughed, cheered and even shed a little tear.
This show is so sunny, positive and life affirming, just what we need right now.
The cast album was on repeat in my flat for a long, long time afterwards. And every time I feel a little blue I play Best Day Ever, the best pick-me-up-song ever!

The show was nominated for 12 Tony Awards and won one: Best Scenic Design of a Musical.
It also won 6 Drama Desk Awards: Outstanding Musical, Actor, Featured Actor, Director, Sets, Wigs and Hair of a Musical.
And 4 Outer Critics Circle Awards: Outstanding New Musical, New Score, Director and Actor in a Musical.

The show was retitled for Broadway and the North American tour, now it’s SpongeBob Squarepants – the Broadway Musical.

Press:
For what it’s worth — and we’re talking millions of dollars here — you are never going to see as convincing an impersonation of a two-dimensional cartoon by a three-dimensional human as that provided by Ethan Slater at the Palace Theater. Mr. Slater plays the title role in SpongeBob SquarePants the Broadway Musical the ginormous giggle of a show that opened on Monday night.

…you will probably adore this musical if: a) “SpongeBob” was a formative influence of your childhood; b) you are a stoner who tokes up to watch reruns of the show on YouTube (categories a and b are not mutually exclusive); or c) if you are (like my date for this show) a parent of “SpongeBob”-bingeing progeny and found its sensibility crept into, and wallpapered, your weary mind.

… you may indeed enjoy such improbable spectacles as a misanthropic squid named Squidward (Gavin Lee, wearing four-legged pants) doing a virtuosic four-footed tap dance with a Busby Berkeley kick line of pink-sequined sea anemones. Or a heavy-metal boy band made up of sea skates on skateboards, with music by Steven Tyler and Joe Perry of Aerosmith. Oh, I forget to tell you. The show’s songs (supervised, arranged and orchestrated by the composer Tom Kitt) have been written by a plethora of pop-rock eminences…

Christopher Gattelli’s choreography of his sexually ambiguous ensemble (genders blur when wet) is perversely brilliant, suggesting piscine movement through breakdance and vogueing gestures instead of the expected swimming motions. But no one matches Mr. Slater in conveying the physicality of the life aquatic.
– Ben Brantley, The New York Times

Children should feel free to take their parents to Tina Landau’s psychedelically inspired version of the whimsical kiddie cartoon show … But Landau’s hallucinogenic stagecraft transcends the show’s television origins by speaking a visual language that’s three-dimensional and boldly theatrical.

(The plot) … is actually a lot scarier than any of the problems that arise in the TV show, but this is Broadway, where things tend to get inflated.
Here, that inflation surfaces in the score. Instead of working with a simpatico composer and lyricist, Landau, in the adventurous spirit of a Steppenwolf director, has stacked the show with individual pop songs written by individual songwriters … It’s not as much of a gimmick as it seems, but without a signature sound, there’s no signature style. What there is, though, is plenty of giddy, goofy fun for all.
– Marilyn Stasio, Variety

(Resulting in a show that) ”is as perfunctorily entertaining as it is insistently forgettable”.
– Alexis Soloski, The Guardian

Videos:

BFF
Bikini Bottom Day/Super Sea Star Savior/Best Day Ever
When The Going Gets Tough
At the Tony Awards: I’m Not a Looser
Gavin Lee (Squidward), Ethan Slater (SpongeBob), and Wesley Taylor (Sheldon Plankton) perform ”You Could Drive a Person Crazy” from COMPANY

Nr 424: Waitress

16 Jan

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Waitress (2015)
Broadway 2016, spelas fortfarande

Music & Lyrics: Sara Bareilles
Book: Jessie Nelson, baserad på filmen med samma namn från 2007 skriven och regisserad av Adrienne Shelly

Jenna is unhappily married, squirreling away money, and hoping to win a pie-baking contest so, with the prize money, she’ll have enough cash to leave her husband Earl.
She finds herself pregnant, which throws her plans awry.
She bakes phenomenal pies at Joe’s diner, listens to old Joe’s wisdom, tolerates her sour boss Cal, is friends with Dawn and Becky (her fellow waitresses), and finds a mutual attraction with the new doctor in town. As the pregnancy advances, life with Earl seems less tolerable, a way out less clear, and the affair with the doctor complicated by his marriage. What options does a waitress have?

Det här var inte direkt en musikal som jag längtade efter att höra eller se. Jag menar, den utspelar sig i den amerikanska södern, på en ”diner”, bland servitriser som bakar pajar och sjunger sånger och det till countryinfluerad rock/pop musik. Typ det mesta som jag inte gillar.
Men, det är en musikal och jag försöker ju att vara öppen för alla typer av musikal så…
Det här var otroligt bra. Jag menar, jag älskar det! Just en sån där typ av ”feel good” musikal som använder sig av lite sentimentalitet för att fördjupa storyn utan att dränka den i det och som verkligen gör att man fylls av glädje och blir så där lyckligt varm inombords.
Och rolig är den. Det får jag inte glömma. Bitvis hysteriskt rolig och det hade jag verkligen inte förväntat mig.
Den kanske inte är djup eller nyskapande eller revolutionerande på nått sätt men den är varm, mänsklig och får åtminstone mig på fall och även fälla både en och annan tår mot slutet.
Det är tur att jag inte låter mina förutfattade meningar styra mig. 

Musiken är som sagt country influerad och innehåller några riktigt, riktigt starka låtar, några komiska showstoppers och en hel del mer anonyma men i sammanhanget fungerande nummer.
Alla sånger är karaktärsdrivna och för handlingen framåt eller fördjupar rollerna.
Flera av  låtar använder sig fullt ut av de män och kvinnor som agerar kör och spelar småroller och låter dem sjunga assnygga bakgrundsstämmor som förhöjer hela verket. Det låter också perfekt om det lilla sexmannabandet som kompar och som får musiken att verkligen svänga.

Och för den som söker en sång att sjunga på en kabaret eller ”open mic” har en hel del bra att hämta som komiska When He Sees Me, emotionellt starka och otroligt vackra She Used To Be Mine eller härliga duetten  Bad Idea.

Rekommenderas!

Kuriosa:
Föreställningen vann en Drama Desk Award samt en Outer Critics Circle Award för bästa manliga biroll till Christopher Fitzgerald.

Föreställningen hade sin urpremiär på American Repertory Theater i Cambridge Massachusetts 2015.

Adrienne Shelly-  hette egentligen Adrienne Levine, hon använde sig av efternamnet Shelly när hon jobbade som skådis, namnet är baserad på hennes pappas förnamn Sheldon –   skrev, regisserade och spelade rollen som Dawn i filmen Waitress (2007).
Hon fick aldrig möjligheten att vara med om 
filmens premiär för 3 månader innan den skulle visas på Sundance Film Festival hittades hon hängd i sitt badrum.
Polisen avskrev fallet ganska så snabbt som ett självmord men Adriennes man gav sig inte. Han sa att hon aldrig skulle ta sitt eget liv, speciellt inte med en 2,5 årig dotter att ta hand om och en film som snart skulle ha premiär. Han gav sig inte förrän polisen återvände till brottsplatsen och gjorde en noggrannare undersökning. Denna gång hittade de ett avtryck från en gymnastiksko.
Man höll på med omfattande renoveringar i bostadshuset hon bodde i och när man kollade byggarbetarnas skor så hittade man den skyldige. En 19årig byggare som erkände att han mördat Adrianne och försökt få det att se ut som ett självmord.

Press:
Much of the score, by the pop singer-songwriter Sara Bareilles, is appealing, drawing on the sounds of country music reflecting the Southern setting, but also containing more traditional Broadway-pop balladry. But the book by Jessie Nelson, based on the movie written and directed by (and co-starring) Adrienne Shelly, tends to flatten most of the characters into comic cartoons. (To be fair, they do not have much more depth in the movie, from which some of the musical’s dialogue is borrowed.)

Only Jenna seems fully drawn from life, and the emotional arc of her character conforms to familiar stories about oppressed women finding their inner strength. This, of course, is a journey that many women have indeed traveled, and has a built-in (or should I say baked-in?) emotional appeal. Still, “Waitress,” directed by Diane Paulus, taps into its wellsprings of universal feeling with a slick surface professionalism rather than anything approaching real depth.
– Charles Isherwood, The New York Times

“Waitress” owes its sweetness to the mouth-watering goodness of Jessie Mueller. As a diner waitress named Jenna, Mueller is such a honey bun, she melts us like the mounds of butter that make Jenna’s homemade pies so luscious.
The musical resorts to comic overkill to create characters based on Adrienne Shelly’s 2007 indie rom-com. But Sara Bareilles has written a charming score that suits the quirky material and Mueller’s dazzling voice and endearing personality.
– Marilyn Stasio, Variety

Echoing a weakness in the original screen source, director Diane Paulus and choreographer Lorin Latarro could be criticized for overplaying the whimsy — there’s so much going on in scene transitions, with ensemble members gliding around delivering pies, aprons and baking ingredients, that it all becomes a tad cutesy and distracting. But the material is anchored at every step by Bareilles’ melodious pop score and Mueller’s supremely natural performance as Jenna. While the stock characters that surround her may be familiar, they’re a winsome bunch played by sterling performers. As her fellow waitresses — feisty, sass-mouthed Becky and mousy, borderline-OCD Dawn — Keala Settle and Kimiko Glenn are treasures, the dynamic among the three of them revealing the material’s debt to Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.
– David Rooney, The Hollywood reporter

Waitress can still be an uncomfortable genre mix: domestic-violence drama and workplace rom-com. That’s in the source material, and the musicalization exaggerates it. What I certainly didn’t expect, though, is that the musicalization could also help to justify the mismatch. As the story rushed toward its multiple conclusions — a typical Broadway problem the creative team was unable to solve — I began to understand that for these characters, life itself is an uncomfortable genre mix. Seeing that and sharing it is the start of their mastering it. Perhaps it really did take an all-female creative team to understand how such a story could be true, and how it could sing. If so, well, hand me a slice of that humble pie.
– Jesse Green, Vulture

Videosar:
Trailer för musikalen
Bad Idea
Soft Place To Land
When He Sees Me
Never Ever Getting Rid Of Me
Opening up + She Used To Be Me, Tony Awards

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