Adina here again with the second installment of Year of Theatre! Check out the first installment. Picking up where we left off: March.
March is my bestie Ally’s birthday, so we hit up our favorite theater: The Nederlander for Disaster! The Musical. The Nederlander was the home of Rent (Ally’s favorite) for many years and the home of Newsies (my favorite) for a little over 2 years. (Our favorites believe in Santa Fe!) We teased the merch sellers, asking if they still had any merch left from our faves. Once the show started, we forgot all about that, especially when Adam Pascal stepped out on stage and started belting. “Oh, f*** me,” I couldn’t help but whisper. There was something about seeing him live, especially back “home” at the Nederlander (where he had performed for many years as Roger in Rent) that gave me a lot of emotions, not to mention the other, more physical, feelings that his singing voice gave me. Disaster! was a new musical written by theater radio host/author Seth Rudetsky. This is what’s called a “jukebox musical,” where they take existing songs, usually pop music, and write a plot around them. Other jukebox musicals are Movin’ Out (Billy Joel music), Mamma Mia! (music of Abba), and Rock of Ages (1980s hair bands). Disaster used disco hits from the 1970s such as “Hot Stuff,” “S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y Night,” “I am Woman,” “I Will Survive,” and more, and put the characters on a cruise ship that was headed for—you guessed it—“Disaster”! It was a riot and a lot of fun, especially the gag of the “twins” Ben and Lisa, both played by Baylee Littrell (fun fact: Baylee is the son of Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell!). Whenever “Lisa” was present, Baylee had a baseball cap with two braids out either side, and “Ben” had no hat. When they were both on stage, one was a dummy. I cracked up Ally by making a Buffy reference: “Ben is Lisa! Glory is Ben!” Also, Jennifer Simard stole the show as the nun with a gambling addiction.
April, I had advance ticket to see She Loves Me at Roundabout Theater’s Studio 54, starring Zachary Levi, Laura Benanti, Jake Krakowski, and Gavin Creel. This was a charming and enjoyable show, but fairly on-point with what I usually enjoy. (Stage-dooring with Zac and his dance party was no exception.) Side note: I’m a big fan of the musical Hair, and the Broadway revival in 2009 starred Gavin Creel as Claude. I ended up watching the Tony performance on YouTube many, many times one night and got a little loopy watching Gavin swivel his hips on the “low” for “hairy high and low” lyric. Naturally, I made a gif out of it, then made a printable gif in the form of a flip book. Just in case Gavin stagedoored for She Loves Me, I brought the book with me. Alas, he chose not to visit us. However, I was able to show the flip book to the security guard as well as Andrew Kober, who was in the ensemble for both Hair and She Loves Me. It was a great joke.
Also in April, I went to see the new musical adaptation of the children’s book Tuck Everlasting. This was a charming show, with excellent performances, memorable set decoration, and a story for the ages. The songs were enjoyable but overall not particularly memorable. One of the things I was most looking forward to was seeing Andrew Keenan-Bolger (Crutchie in the OBC of Newsies) in the role of Jesse Tuck. Back in January at BroadwayCon, I had Andrew sign my Newsies book. While I was standing at the table, I had the Newsies teddy bear that I had bought at the tour last fall. I didn’t bring his attention to the bear; just had it with me at the autograph session. Andrew was delighted to see the bear (which hadn’t been offered as merch for the Broadway run) and got genuinely excited to see it. I made up my mind then to get one for him and give it to him the next time I saw him. Well, the opportunity had presented itself with Tuck, and not only did I get a Newsies bear, I was able to get a bear-sized crutch for the bear!
Andrew loved his gift and he was so excited to receive a Crutchie-Bear of his very own! He assured me it was going to live in his dressing room. When I saw him again in May, he let me know that Crutchie-Bear lives on his table at home!
Next month: Birthday and Rainbow playbills!