Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A Short Reprieve

I've just discovered a tiny loophole, hence the unexpected blog entry. To preserve this privilege, I shall say no more. :)

Review of Cyrano de Bergerac, Richard Rodgers Theater, Sunday October 14th, Broadway, NYC

Here's a nice review.

Note that critic Dan Bacalzo uses the term "magnificent" to describe lead actor Kevin Kline. I couldn't agree more -- just after the show, I emailed my friend ( who stays in New York ) and used the exact same word. :)

I shall leave you to read the linked article for the nitty-gritty details. Regular readers will know that I much prefer writing about my feelings, haha.

Before you begin, please learn more about Kline, a man I've admired since my childhood days, and whose films I am extremely familiar with.

It was yet another stroke of good luck that I was even able to catch this performance. Cyrano was slated to begin its official run in early November, but started previewing in mid-October. However, I had no inkling of this ( Internet searches conducted prior to my travels yielded no such information ), and the only reason I found out was that my parents and I happened to stroll right past the theater en route to Times Square. The billboard loudly proclaimed: PREVIEWS COMMENCE OCT 12 -- I couldn't believe my eyes! I immediately walked in and purchased 2 premium tickets for the matinee. ( Having already secured seats for Jersey Boys, my resistance had been worn down somewhat. :))

The main appeal of Cyrano, to be frank, is Kline, and nothing else. Sure, I've watched Jennifer Garner since her cameo days on Felicity, and applaud her work on Alias. But Kline... ahh, he is in an entirely different galaxy.

Films of his that I've seen and loved: A Fish Called Wanda, I Love You To Death ( starring another of my faves, River Phoenix ), Consenting Adults ( with Kevin Spacey! :)), Dave ( his absolute BEST ), French Kiss, The Ice Storm, Silverado, A Midsummer Night's Dream, The Emperor's Club, The Pink Panther ( hilarious! ), and De-Lovely.

There're others which aren't listed, but I didn't like those as much. ( e.g. Wild Wild West - a catastrophe )

Like Spacey, John Cusack and John Malkovich, I find Kline's unmistakeable voice mesmerizing. And his diction: kind of a cross between crisp British and upper-class American socialite -- is music to my ears.

I went to the show with no specific expectations, save that of getting my money's worth from Kline, who definitely did not disappoint. I really could care less about the rest of the cast ( though seeing Garner in person was a treat ), the stage or the costumes. I just wanted to see - and hear - Kline.

If you're not familiar with the Cyrano storyline, perhaps you'll recall the romantic comedy, Roxanne, starring Steve Martin ( another actor I never tire of ) and Darryl Hannah ( totally unconvincing as a brainiac, but that's Hollywood for ya ). It's a modern take on the tale, but made enjoyable only because of Martin's brilliant portrayal.

Kline works within the confines of the 1600s era, complete with heavy, flowy costumes, even bigger feathery hats, and a physically demanding opening act which requires him to climb down from the 2nd floor balcony ( just metres from our 4th row left aisle seats, woohoo! ), and swordfight while spewing sarcastic poetry.

When he first appeared, my hair stood on end. He is very tall, yet extremely fit and agile considering his 60 years of age.

No microphones in use, so we were lucky to be seated in front, because the actors' voices faltered at certain parts.

But Kline shone no matter what he did. And that included bits when he was just standing there, staring into space. He exudes star magnetism, with everyone and everything around him fading into the background whenever he walks on-stage. It is amazing.

Like the critic, I too enjoyed the balcony scene most. It combined humour, romance and beautiful poetry adeptly, but of course, Kline stole the show without even trying.

At one juncture, he leaned against a tree ( pretending to be Christian but expressing sentiments that Cyrano himself felt ), whispering, "Roxane...Roxane...Roxane", sighing her name in the smallest whisp of a voice, and I swear to you my heart broke right then and there.

Comparing Cyrano to King Lear ( the RSC's production which came to the Esplanade earlier this year, featuring Sir Ian McKellan ), I would say that the latter is superior in many ways ( script - who can possibly surpass the great Shakespeare?; overall ensemble performance; sets; direction ). But if you're a fan of Kevin Kline, or are keen to see a world-renowned thespian in his element, then Cyrano is worth the time and money.

In passing, Garner is just as pretty in person, with flawlessly fair complexion, and a million-dollar smile. Her attempts at emoting, however, tend to fall flat. Having seen her comedy, 13 Going On 30, her performance as Roxane is merely an extension of that persona. It might work in a fluffy chick flick, but it doesn't here.

Still, her obliging and warm personality are laudable, as she made an appearance outside the stage door post-performance to sign autographs and pose for pictures. I have a really nice photo of her, which I will post later.

Sadly, Kline did not come outside to meet his fans. I'd like to think it's because he's tired, and not because he's being snooty. In any case, my admiration for him is even greater now, and I hope to find an opportunity to see him on-stage again in the future.

In Continuation

Here's part 2 of this blog entry.

I Miss New York

It's true -- I think about NYC almost daily, and would hop on the next plane back if I could.

The place I miss most? Broadway.

Aside from the terrific shows I watched, I'm just awed by the whole area, which is so rich in history and dotted with numerous theaters jostling for audiences on every street.

During the daylight hours, the roads are pretty quiet ( unless there's a matinee on ), with everything looking ordinary and nondescript.

Once the sun sets, however, Broadway comes alive in the most spectacular manner. The neon signs sparkle, the crowds gather, and each little theater ( little, at least, by Singapore standards ) houses its own massive party within, staging grand song-and-dance performances, or hosting famous stars in equally renowned plays.

It doesn't help that I'm currently blasting the Jersey Boys original cast recording soundtrack everywhere I go -- on my iPod, the laptop, the office PC, the car stereo. Certainly, it's great to be able to relive the whole Broadway experience again, but there's no denying the musical genius of the Four Seasons, whose hits still resonate to this day.

I've developed a ritual of belting the lyrics in my car to and from work ( yes, I belt ) -- Sherry, Big Girls Don't Cry, Walk Like A Man, Can't Take My Eyes Off You, December 1963 and Cry For Me are huge favourites.

But the best part, I think, is being able to appreciate each song's meaning more profoundly now, since the Broadway musical explains quite a lot of the background story. December 1963, for example, chronicles Four Seasons member / songwriter Bob Gaudio's unforgettable encounter with a social escort ( he mentions a "personal first", from which you can draw your own conclusions, haha ).

I've also developed a big soft spot for Can't Take My Eyes Off You, something I largely attribute to the wonderful Jersey Boys show. What I love most are the lyrics, with a sampling below:

"Pardon the way that I stare / There's nothing else to compare

The sight of you leaves me weak / There are no words left to speak"

These days, I get bombarded with excerpts from this annoying music video featuring w.i.l.l.i.a.m of the Black-Eyed Peas. He chants, "Baby, where you get your body from?" and the women reply, "I got it from my mama!" It keeps repeating over and over again, driving me insane.

It's times like these when I understand why the heck I haven't turned my FM radio on for months ( no such luck with the TV, which I can't live without ), and find solace in the truly great music of yesteryear ( Barry Manilow included, heh heh ).

And of course, John Lloyd Young is a joy to listen to at high volume. The clarity and exquisite tone of his voice will stand him in good stead for many decades. I hope he cuts a pop album someday.

Northern Exposure Reruns!

Just to get this out of the way, I don't know why this is so, but Northern Exposure star Rob Morrow reminds me of John Lloyd Young. It's the whole Jewish vibe, I suppose. Not that I'm clear about Young's lineage. But it's a compliment, 'cos NE is one of my all-time fave TV shows. :)

The reruns began the week I returned from the U.S., so I've been watching every single episode since.

For the uninitiated, check out this website.

I remember watching it during my secondary school / junior college days. How I adored the kooky residents of Cicely, Alaska! A small sleepy town with a population of 839, yet never short of bizarre occurrences ( e.g. the annual breaking of the glaciers, which inexplicably causes some degree of psychosis for an entire week ) and even more bizarre characters ( e.g. Maggie O'Connell, the beautiful pilot whose boyfriends have a habit of dying horrible deaths -- the latest got hit by a satellite fragment while out camping, and became fused to the contraption due to the immense heat generated. Ick! )

Chris, the lone resident radio DJ, is also an ordained priest. He's my personal favourite, delivering the best lines in his smooth DJ voice, waxing lyrical about a wide variety of intelligent subjects, even ( literally ) losing his voice to a gorgeous blonde who stepped into his cubicle one day to ask for directions.

Rob Morrow plays Joel Fleischman, the uptight Jewish doctor from New York, who initially abhors his existence but slowly and predictably warms up to his neighbours in Cicely, participating in a traditional "bull run" ( where all the men sprint naked through the streets in below-zero temperatures ) along the way.

There's a nice little NE novel which I still have on my bookshelf, in which the gang has insomnia for months, and resorts to writing lengthy letters to various relatives and friends in order to pass the time.

Ahhh, such good memories. :)

NE airs every weekday on StarWorld Channel 18 at 10am. No repeats, so record it if you can.

ER Returns!

I think it's the 4th season now, where Carter is an ER resident.

More of the same intense resuscitation scenes and riveting storylines. Daily at 8pm on Hallmark Channel 17.

Josh Groban's Noel

I bought my copy at the Virgin Megastore at Times Square, so I'm not certain whether it's available in Singapore at the moment.

I've always been a big fan of Josh's, so buying this was a no-brainer. He never disappoints, and this is no exception.

It's nice to have a good classical Christmas album for any collection, and David Foster always manages to bring a new spin to an old song, so this CD, despite remaining true to its roots, still has a few surprises up its sleeve.

Of note, 2 duets -- with Brian McKnight on Angels We Have Heard On High, and Faith Hill on The First Noel. The former is very well done, with both delivering controlled yet satisfying vocals and harmonizing beautifully. The latter is o-kay, I guess. Both Josh and Faith are sensational as individuals, but together, something isn't quite right. Maybe Hill's forced shrillness on the higher notes is a contributing factor. I thought Josh did a good job on this one.

Little Drummer Boy has an upbeat, pop-ish feel to it, a pleasant deviation from the usual boring interpretations ( most versions of this song make me push the fast forward button as a reflex ). What Child Is This also deserves special mention for the same reason.

I didn't really enjoy the children's choir segments ( Silent Night being one example ). There was something off with the tone of the whole group, and it came off as very one-dimensional.

Besides, Josh Groban doesn't need a choir. He does just fine on his own.

The verdict: If you're a JG fan, then go ahead and buy it. If not, go to a CD store and sample it first.

Next Entry

Something about The Chippendales. And Juan DeAngelo.

I promise. :)

No comments: