Review: National Wicked Tour is Wicked Good Fun

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Wicked

Update 8/13/13: This review originally incorrectly identified the actors in the roles discussed below. The article has been updated. Thanks to the commenters who pointed out the mistake.

About a week and a half ago I was in Philadelphia for my cousin's wedding, and spent the following day doing some sightseeing. It was raining the entire day, so me and the group I was with decided that we should go see a show at night. It so happened that Wicked was playing across the street at the famous Academy of Music, so we bought some tickets.

I wasn't there specifically to review the show, of course, but I committed as much of it as possible to memory, and then wrote the first draft of what's below the next day as I traveled to Williamsburg, VA.

Warning: This review contains major spoilers for the show, so if you haven't seen it and don't wish to know anything about it, turn back now!

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Review: Phantom Las Vegas really is a spectacular show

Sign outside Phantom - The Las Vegas Spectacular

When I was in Las Vegas the week before last, I had the opportunity to see Phantom — The Las Vegas Spectacular at The Venetian. Like Penn & Teller, I somehow hadn't yet gotten to it. In this case, though, I had actually stayed at The Venetian for three consecutive years. I guess three years of hearing the main theme everywhere in the casino finally got to me, because I couldn't pass it up, especially after I learned that the show is closing in September.

The cast

First let me say that everybody was fantastic. Anthony Crivello as The Phantom, of course, but also Kristi Holden as Christine, Andrew Ragone as Raoul, Tina Walsh as Madame Giry, and the rest of the ensemble as well. They played their parts well, and Crivello in particular had a way of keeping the audience captivated. However, for me, John Leslie Wolfe as Monsieur André, and Lawson Skala as Monsieur Firmin, often stole the show at some points. They were hilarious, and the two actors have great chemistry together.

I'm still not sure whether that's a good thing or a bad thing. On one hand, they didn't so overshadow the two main cast members to make their performances pale in comparison. On other other hand, Wolfe's and Firmin's performances definitely left me wanting more appearances from their characters. Don't get me wrong; this show is about The Phantom and Christine, but they just didn't have quite as much an effect on me as Wolfe and Firmin (except maybe disliking The Phantom a bit for killing people). Maybe I'm just more into comedy than romantic drama, but after seeing them in this show, I want to see a spin-off featuring Monsieurs André and Firmin.

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Liz and Allison review Harvey

Harvey on Broadway

This past Saturday, Allison and I went to see Harvey on Broadway, starring Jim Parsons (of Big Bang Theory fame). Here's an approximation of our conversation on the train ride home:

Liz: Wow, that was really good. I think Jim Parsons was my favorite; his character was basically Sheldon, just way more social.

Allison: Yeah, he did a great job, and his portrayal of Elwood P. Dowd was so engaging! I was surprised to see Carol Kane pop up in one scene, but I couldn't tell if she was acting or just being herself.

Liz: Haha, yeah, I know. She's kind of always like that.

Allison: "Hi, I'm Carol Kane! And I'm playing Carol Kane! I'm wide-eyed and wacky, and you LOVE me!"

Liz: So true! I do love her.

Allison: It's hard not to love Carol Kane, which is why she has the market pegged on being herself. But I think the actress I was most impressed with was Jessica Hecht as Harvey's sister, Veta — those nervous breakdown scenes! Wow!

Liz: Yes! I was cracking up so hard; the second half of the show was better than the first just because of that.

Allison: I feel like sometimes in theater and film, there's a tendency to make even a "breakdown" appear glamorous. And this was definitely not glamorous, which is part of what made it so amazing. We were sitting so close that we could see the tears streaming down her face, and the beads of sweat, and the panic in her eyes... I was like, "Woah, this woman is seriously on the edge right now."

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While in Las Vegas for last week's Ticket Summit® conference and trade show, I made it a point to attend Penn & Teller's show at the Rio. Though I had visited Vegas once a year for the previous three years, I hadn't yet gotten a chance to see it. So this year I actually got a ticket and went as soon as I arrived in the city.

I knew going into it that Penn & Teller isn't quite like other magic shows. Their shtick is that of the skeptic, and it's a role they fill well because not only do they have the chops to actually perform the tricks. With such confidence, they can afford to give away a few secrets, and it helps them stand out from the other magicians on the Strip.

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5 great Broadway soundtracks

A few weeks ago, Tim suggested that I should do a blog post about the best Broadway songs. It sounded fun, so I agreed...and soon realized just how difficult the task would be. I ended up settling on my favorite Broadway soundtracks, so that I could cheat a little bit and include more awesome songs. Here's my list, in no particular order:

Les Miserables

This is one of the most powerful shows ever written. I saw it for the first time just a few months ago, and it was a very intense and emotional experience. It helps that there is almost no dialogue; the entire show is music, which is amazing. This video is of the finale of the 25th anniversary concert version of the show; the video is about 11 minutes long...including 3 minutes of standing ovation at the end. Shows you just how great this show is.

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