04 May 2010

Yesterday, instead of heading over to The Met Costume Gala and stalking some celebrities, I hung around Broadway and attended the free reading of the new musical Volleygirls at The New World Stages. (It's all good. I figured it would be chaos over at The Met. A little audio/visual art is great too.)

Volleygirls is a story about the Saint Agnes Volleyball Team set in Bexley, Ohio during the current fall sports season. The show starts off introducing the current members of the team: Jess (Allison Jill Posner), the team captain; Marisol (Monica Raymund of Lie to Me), who will be revealed as a lesbian later in the show; Liv (Shaina Taub), the "fourth dumbest girl in the school"; and Ingrid (Raushanah Simmons), the tall and "nice" one. Their coach, played by Hairspray's Clarke Thorell is suffering from a case of "loseritis". He separated from his wife who happens to be the sports coordinator of St. Agnes, played by Jennifer C. Johnson (she plays 3 roles.), he dwells on the one bad review he got on his published work, and his team could not complete the roster of 6 players let alone beat the best of the league, Arlington. Eventually, they find two new girls, Katie played by Alex Ellis of Legally Blonde and Crash, portrayed by Joy Suprano. Katie is the new girl in school while Crash was the soccer team goalie looking for a change in scenery, "I don't want to STOP things from happening. I want to MAKE things happen."

At first, the team did not get along well with the new additions. Their "system" was not working - more like a hit or miss. Then Marisol, Ingrid, and Liv devise a new strategy which Marison dubs as "habali", wild pig. They practice in secret and then they start winning again. The team tries out another player, shy girl Jocelyn played perfectly by Leslie Flesner. She then asks Marisol to teach her how to "move like you do", confident and so sure of herself. This leads to Marisol developing a crush on Jocelyn.

Meanwhile, the sports commentator Xavier (Gideon Glick, Spring Awakening) is revealed to have a crush on team captain Jess. He coins the term "Volleygirls" which Jess shoots down initially. Jess' dad played by Eric Michael Gillett (who also plays 3 roles) does not believe in the team's coach and repeatedly speaks his mind to the Coach about it.

Under the high-energy music and (what I can imagine) action, nothing much happens apart from the team winning and losing some games until they get their act together and reach the finals against Arlington. And the underdogs always win, right? ;)

Volleygirls is a real feel-good show. The characters were developed nicely. The music/vocals were great. My favorite vocal performance was Eric Michael Gillett as the Russian referee. He was hilarious! Among the girls, I really enjoyed Monica Raymund's portrayal of Marisol. The music was really engaging. The "Habali" song reminded me so much of Spring Awakening's "I Believe" (this show seems to be following me around haha) because one, they rhyme; and two, it gets stuck in your head like a boss.

I am curious as to how this will look like fully staged. There were a lot of scenes where the team was at play. Somehow, I cannot picture how that will look like just yet. Also, would they bring more people to fill in some roles? Both Gillett and Johnson play 3 parts and even if they change costumes, it may still be confusing. (That was one of the things I didn't like so much about American Idiot - Mary Faber and Christina Sajous playing named roles as well as ensemble. After a while, you'll be wondering why Heather and Extraordinary Girl are in there spazzing with everybody haha.) Overall, the show is really fun. A musical about sports is something new to me and I enjoyed it very much.

Volleygirls is directed by Neil Patrick Stewart, Book by Rob Ackerman, Music by Eli Bolin, and Lyrics by Sam Forman.


There will be another reading on Monday, 10 May 2010 at The Beckett, Theatre Row. For more information, click here. RSVP volleygirlsmusical@gmail.com for guaranteed seats.

01 May 2010

Just got home from having dinner at Avenue B [oooouuuuut tonight! LMAO] -- spent the afternoon at Alphabet City. Then I remembered that I haven't blogged about my first off-Broadway show... AVENUE Q.

Last 28 April 2010, I got to watch Avenue Q at the New World Stages. It was easy enough to get there. And it's so close to the Gershwin! [I'm still thinking of watching/skipping Wicked. I mean, I love it as much as I do American Idiot but I've watch it so many times already.] I had two comp tickets but oh well, I watched it all alone. It's okay though. I might piss off any companion with my mouthing of the songs! I can't help it, sorry haha.

To "commemorate" my first off-Broadway show, I bought a souvenir. This Avenue Q keychain. [I got the American Idiot shirt/poster for free so I won't buy any more the next time I watch woot!] I loved it from the first time I saw it. It's so cute!

I didn't get a photo POV from my seat. Well, I tried but the theater was smallish and ushers were EVERYWHERE. Anyway, I was Orchestra Row M seat 5 and 7. Great seats! :D And oh, even though it was Avenue Q we were watching, I pimped American Idiot to those watching with me. The girls in front of me were wondering which Broadway show to watch. They were reading the list off the playbill and one of them said, "Oh American Idiot!" So I kinda offered my $0.02. The playbill helped as well: it has the Mayer on Armstrong interview and a full-page ad for American Idiot. Suffice to say, I am sending three new Idiots over to St. James next week. ;-)

Anyway, oh man I forgot how fun this show is. It's been a while since I listened to the OBCR and the last clip I've seen is of Mary Faber as Kate Monster singing "A Fine, Fine Line". My Princeton-Rod is Seth Rettberg and My Kate Monster-Lucy the Slut is Sarah Stiles. Ann Sanders is my Christmas Eve. I love them! I probably looked stupid singing along to "It Sucks to be Me". Yes, I know all the words. And fuck it, I "bopped" my head towards the end of the song, "We're together here / On Avenue Q..." I'm a dork lmao! It's a good thing there was no one seated behind me. Hahahaha!

At first, it was a bit distracting with my eyes shifting between the actor and the puppet. (My favorite cast is the original London cast because they are the most engaging and not distracting at all.) Sarah Stiles' voice was so cute. Although she did a better job as Lucy the Slut vocally than Kate Monster. I do like Seth Rettberg but sometimes Princeton's mouth doesn't move. So sometimes, I'm looking at Seth instead of Princeton. Like with Sarah, I like his secondary character more, Rod. Cullen R. Titmas was an awesome Nicky (voice). I loved his performance in "If You Were Gay". Ann Sanders as Christmas Eve was HILARIOUS! Whenever she's onstage, I couldn't take my eyes off her. Nicholas Kohn as Brian was okay. I mean, every Brian I've seen are somewhat the same anyway. Gary Coleman was played by Danielle K. Thomas. She was very funny. But for me, the best performance was by Maggie Lakis as one of the Bad Luck Bears. Oh man, she was so good!

My favorite scenes are "The Internet if for Porn", "If You Were Gay", "Fantasies Come True", and my favorite song from the show, "A Fine, Fine Line".

I didn't like "I Wish I Could Go Back" and "The Money Song" because there was a bit of sound overload. One funny thing that happened that night: in "Schadenfreude", there's a dialogue:

Gary Coleman: Satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune.
Princeton: "Satisfaction or pleasure felt at someone else’s misfortune"? That IS German!
Oh man, there were three "older" German audience members seated at the row in front of me. [They were talking in German during intermission, that's how I knew.] OMG, they weren't laughing for a good ten minutes... until after two songs at least! It was awkward but funny!

The audience was great! Most of those in the front rows are out-of-towners -- they were dressed to the nines! I think it was a class trip; I overheard a couple of them in the ladies' room... something about how "they don't have [this] back home".

Overall, I enjoyed it a lot. I couldn't have picked a better show to pop my off-Broadway cherry. Yes, I just said that. ;-)

On the way home, I decided to pass through Times Square and say hello to the American Idiot billboard. It's cool that it's beside the Avenue Q sign - the two shows I've seen so far. Then I got to 44th street and peeked at the St. James Theatre. I was kinda hoping I could catch some stage dooring but Avenue Q runs longer than American Idiot even without the intermission. Oh well, next time I watch then.

Next show: Volleygirls. Free reading at New World Stages (again), Monday at 3pm.